Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Opt-Out Provision Found Unconstitutional

The Oklahoma Supreme Court has ruled that the opt-out provision in the state’s 2013 workers compensation reform measure is unconstitutional per Oklahoma’s Constitution Article 5, Section 59.

Dillard’s Tried to Deny Appeal
The case involved an appeal by Jonnie Yvonne Vasquez, who suffered a back injury while lifting boxes when working for Dillard’s. Vazquez appealed her benefit based on procedures in the opt-out provision. Dillard’s argued that the commission should not decide plan disputes as alternative benefit plans come under the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act. The court ruled in favor of Vasquez, indicating she could appeal to an en banc panel.

The Ruling
Justice Joseph Watt said that the statue creates a special class of injured workers who do not receive the same benefits as others, allowing employers to single out injured workers for inequitable treatment. According to the Oklahoma Insurance Department, 54 companies in the state have opt-out programs.

If you believe you have been the victim of an unfair workers compensation awards, contact Elias & Elias, Attorneys at Law, to discuss your case.

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