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The Supreme Court of Oklahoma held that a provision in Okla. Stat. tit. 85A, § 2(14) that creates a condition precedent to the filing of a cumulative trauma claim—that the claimant must have completed 180 days of continuous active employment with the employer—is unconstitutional, since it violates the claimant’s due process rights under Oklahoma’s Constitution. The worker contended she had sustained a cumulative trauma injury during her employment. An ALJ denied the claim and the Commission affirmed on the basis that she did not remain employed for 180 days. The employer contended, inter alia, that the provision had been enacted as a means of preventing fraudulent claims. The appellate court agreed that the State had a valid interest in preventing fraud, but held the statute impermissibly and conclusively placed the claimant in a class of employees who file fraudulent claims in spite of the fact that her claim might very well be valid. In that sense the provision was “overinclusive.” Simultaneously, it was “underinclusive,” since one of the purposes of the workers’ compensation laws was to provide statutory compensation for employees actually suffering an injury arising out of the course and scope of employment and the effect of the statute was to exclude employees actually injured during the first 180 days of employment.
Thomas A. Robinson, J.D., the Feature National Columnist for the LexisNexis Workers’ Compensation eNewsletter, is the co-author of Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law (LexisNexis).
LexisNexis Online Subscribers: Citations below link to Lexis Advance. Bracketed citations link to lexis.com.
See Torres v. Seaboard Foods LLC, 2016 OK 20 (Mar. 1, 2016) [2016 OK 20 (Mar. 1, 2016)]
See generally Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, § 50.01 [50.01]
For a more detailed discussion of the case, see http://www.workcompwriter.com/oklahoma-high-court-strikes-down-states-180-day-cumulative-trauma-employment-rule/
Source: Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, the nation’s leading authority on workers’ compensation law.
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