OPEA is Granted Injunctive Relief in OMD Action

To view the full Petition for Injunctive Relief click here.

Thursday afternoon, Judge Barbara Swinton granted Oklahoma Public Employees Association (OPEA) a temporary injunction and temporary restraining order in an action against the Oklahoma Military Department in Oklahoma County District Court. Representing OPEA at the hearing were Kevin Donelson and Regina Marsh of Fellers, Snider, Blankenship, Bailey and Tippens.

“If a group is big enough and strong enough they can barrel their way through a lot of things,” Donelson told the Military Department employees. “Luckily you all are members of an association that is just as strong.”

OPEA filed the action after the Oklahoma Military Department attempted to coerce employees to relinquish their rights under the merit system for a five percent increase in compensation. When the employees refused this move from “classified” to “unclassified” status, they were informed they would not receive a raise without this change.

“I appreciate OPEA standing up for the employees in the Military Department,” said Lieutenant Jesse Braun. “My job, as a police officer, requires me to implement law enforcement duties without fear of retribution. It is critical that I remain classified to effectively serve the citizens of Oklahoma.”

In addition, OPEA asserts that the state violated the law in passing legislation to remove the agency’s employees from the classified service. OPEA claims the legislation, SB 633, passed in 2011, violated 74O.S. § 841.30, which establishes procedures that agencies must follow to move employees from “classified” to “unclassified” status. Before legislative session, agencies must submit their request to the Oklahoma Compensation and Unclassified Positions Review Board. OPEA claims the Oklahoma Military Department did not follow the statutory procedure.

“We appreciate Judge Swinton’s order and look forward to the opportunity to further represent our members in this case,” said OPEA Executive Director Sterling Zearley. “We believe the agency violated the rights of these employees by refusing to allow them to provide for their families and maintain protection under the merit system. Some of the employees are engaged in public safety activities and must be protected from the political process to effectively perform their job duties.”

A trial date has not yet been set in this case.

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