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EEOC Accuses Oklahoma Oil & Gas Company of Screening Applicants by Age, Workers' Compensation Status

Oklahoma employers are supposed to make hiring decisions based on merit, not preconceived notions of an applicant's fitness based on age or disability. Indeed, federal and state laws prohibit such employment discrimination. Unfortunately, many employers throughout the state try to find clever ways to work around the law, only to find themselves in the cross-hairs of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency charged with enforcing civil rights laws in the workplace. 

For example, the EEOC recently filed a lawsuit against a oil and gas drilling company here in Oklahoma over alleged age and disability discrimination. Of course, a lawsuit is merely a set of allegations and not a final adjudication. But the EEOC's complaint illustrates the type of conduct prohibited by employment discrimination laws, particularly in Oklahoma's most prominent industry.

The defendant in this case solicited job seekers for its oil rigs through an online application, which among other things asked for the applicant's age and prior history, if any, of receiving workers' compensation benefits. The EEOC alleges the defendant used this information to intentionally discriminate against applicants who were over the age of 40 or previously injured on-the-job and therefore legally entitled to workers' compensation benefits.

Specifically, the EEOC cited the case of an applicant who was over 40 and had 21 years experience working on oil rigs. The EEOC alleges the defendant failed to hire this applicant, however, because he was "not qualified." In another case, the EEOC said the defendant refused to interview a qualified applicant because he suffered a "fractured thumb" while working for another drilling company and received workers' compensation benefits for missing a week of work.

Have You Been a Victim of Age or Disability Discrimination?

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 protects all workers age 40 and over from discrimination in hiring, termination, promotion, or compensation due to their age. In addition, the Americans With Disabilities Act prevents job-related discrimination based on a real or perceived disability. The latter refers to cases where an employer might falsely assume that someone is incapable of performing a job, say because they previously received workers' compensation benefits for a work-related injury.

If you have been unfairly denied a chance to interview for a position based on your age or disability status, it is important to take prompt action to assert your rights under federal and state law. The Tulsa employment law attorneys at Frasier, Frasier & Hickman, LLP, represents all types of discrimination victims. Call us today at 918-779-3658 to schedule a free initial consultation. 

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