Oklahoma Supreme Court invalidates workers’ compensation rule

Cropped Photo: Courtesy Wiki Commons / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Cropped Photo: Courtesy Wiki Commons / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Supreme Court has struck down the “opt out” provision of the state’s workers’ compensation law, ruling it is an unconstitutional special law that gives employers the authority to single out injured workers for inequitable treatment.

The provision allows an employer to “opt out” of the state’s workers compensation system entirely. But in a 7-2 ruling handed down Tuesday, the state’s highest court said it “creates impermissible, unequal, disparate treatment” of injured workers, in violation of the Oklahoma Constitution. Only Texas and Oklahoma have “opt out” provisions.

The ruling is the latest setback for sweeping Oklahoma workers compensation guidelines adopted by the Legislature in 2013. In April, the Supreme Court invalidated provisions that allowed deferral of payments for permanent partial disability for workers who eventually return to their jobs.