workers' compensation law

Chicken Workers Sue, Saying They Were Modern-Day Slaves

Oct 12, 2017
Shane Bevel / Reveal

Three Oklahoma men filed a federal class-action lawsuit today alleging that they were modern-day slaves forced by a drug rehabilitation program to work for free in chicken processing plants.

How An Oklahoma Drug Court Rehab Kept Its Participants' Workers' Comp

Oct 9, 2017
Shane Bevel / Reveal

After Fred Barbee broke his ankle while working at a chicken processing plant in Arkansas, he expected time off to heal.

But he wasn’t in a normal workplace. A drug court judge in Tulsa, Oklahoma, had sent Barbee to a drug rehabilitation program called Christian Alcoholics & Addicts in Recovery, or CAAIR. The program makes men work without pay at plants owned by Simmons Foods Inc.

This Week in Oklahoma Politics, KOSU's Michael Cross talks with Republican Political Consultant Neva Hill and ACLU Oklahoma Executive Director Ryan Kiesel about a call by the House Majority Floor Leader for Republican Representatives to report to the State Capital to resume the special session this Monday afternoon, the State Supreme Court rejecting a portion of the 2013 Workers Compensation Overhaul removing benefits from workers who miss two or more medical appointments and Scott Pruitt gets criticized for spending nearly $15,000 in one days worth of air travel across Oklahoma.

At age 31, Nixon Arias cut a profile similar to many unauthorized immigrants in the United States. A native of Honduras, he had been in the country for more than a decade and had worked off and on for a landscaping company for nine years. The money he earned went to building a future for his family in Pensacola, Fla. His Facebook page was filled with photos of fishing and other moments with his three boys, ages 3, 7 and 8.

But in November 2013, that life began to unravel.

This Week in Oklahoma Politics, KOSU's Michael Cross talks with Republican Poliical Consultant Neva Hill and ACLU Oklahoma Executive Director Ryan Kiesel about State Question 790 to remove a section of the Oklahoma Constitution banning public funds for religious purposes, a Sooner Poll of all the state questions facing voters November 8th and a new report showing registered Republicans outnumbering Democrats in Oklahoma.

Three years after passage of sweeping legislation that revamped Oklahoma's workers' compensation system, courts are scrapping significant parts of the law in decisions that say the regulations violate the state constitution and do not provide adequate protection to workers.

A "race to the bottom" in state workers' compensation laws has the Labor Department calling for "exploration" of federal oversight and federal minimum benefits.

"Working people are at great risk of falling into poverty," the agency says in a new report on changes in state workers' comp laws. Those changes have resulted in "the failure of state workers' compensation systems to provide [injured workers] with adequate benefits."

This Week in Oklahoma KOSU's Michael Cross talks with ACLU Oklahoma Executive Director Ryan Kiesel and Republican Political Consultant Neva Hill about the state Supreme Court striking down the controversial opt-out provision of the Workers' Compensation Law passed by the GOP legislature in 2013, a delay in the acceptance of procedures to could put executions on hold for the next two year and more injection wells get shut down after a fault line was recently discovered through the 5.8 quake which hit Oklahoma earlier this month.

A national campaign to rewrite state laws and allow businesses to decide how to care for their injured workers suffered a significant setback Tuesday when the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that Oklahoma's version of the law is unconstitutional.

Nick Oxford / ProPublica

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.

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