The Oklahoma Anti-Discrimination Act prohibits employment practices that discriminate on the basis of sex. All public and private employers are covered under the Act. Contractors or subcontractors furnishing material or performing work for the state also are covered by the Act (OK Stat. Tit. 25 Sec. 1301). According to the Commission's guidelines, discriminatory practices include:
• Restricting the numbers of married women employed and not the numbers of married men;
• Classifying a job as male or female where a BFOQ would not apply; and
• Classifying a job as light or heavy duty in order to disguise an unlawful job classification by sex.
Other related laws prohibit state agencies from discriminating in employment on the basis of sex (OK Stat. Tit. 74 Sec. 841.10, Sec. 954) and guarantee women equal pay for similar work (OK Stat. Tit. 40 Sec. 198.1).
A federal court in Oklahoma ruled in favor of a female manager who, despite her success and experience, was replaced by a less experienced male candidate (Bryson v. Renda Broad, Inc., No. 07-CV-0300-CVE-FHM (Okla. Dist. Ct. 2009)). In addition to evidence that the employer had no female managers, the former employee presented evidence of negative remarks by male executives about female managers. Also, the employer several times changed its statements regarding the reason it replaced the female manager. The court concluded that when the evidence was viewed as a whole, it was sufficient to suggest that the employer's reason was pretext for sex discrimination.
Practical tip: Employers should carefully document the legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons leading to an adverse employment decision. Having a review process in place for termination decisions may also help ...