Employement Law Alerts – Protection from Workplace Harassment and Violence Act

On May 29, 2019, Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt signed legislation (S.B. 715) allowing an employer, or its authorized agent, to file a written verified petition for an injunction prohibiting workplace harassment. Workplace harassment is a pattern or course of conduct that is directed toward another individual in a workplace that includes repeated or continuing contact that would cause a reasonable person to suffer emotional distress and that actually causes emotional distress to the victim. It includes, but is not limited to, credible threats of violence.

The petition must contain the employer’s name, defendant’s name and address (if known), and a specific statement demonstrating facts and dates that constitute workplace harassment directed at the employer, any employee, any person who enters the workplace, and any person performing official work duties on behalf of the employer.

Upon granting an injunction against workplace harassment, the court may:

  • Restrain the defendant from coming near the employer’s property or place of business and restrain the defendant from contacting the employer, an employee, or another person while that employee or person is on or at the employer’s property or place of business or is performing official work duties; and
  • Grant any other relief necessary for the employer’s protection, the workplace, employees of the employer or any other person who is on or at the property of the employer or place of business or who is performing official work duties on behalf of or for the benefit of the employer.

Employers are immune from civil liability for seeking or failing to seek an injunction unless it is being sought for an ulterior, impermissible purpose.

The law does not:

  • Expand, diminish, alter, or modify an employer’s duty to provide a safe workplace for employees and other persons; or
  • Permit a court to issue a temporary restraining order or injunction that prohibits speech or other activities that are constitutionally protected or otherwise protected by law.

The law is effective on November 1, 2019.

Read OK S.B. 715