Okla. High Court Put Breaks on Company-Run Workers’ Comp


A corporate-fueled movement to allow private companies to set their own rules for compensating injured workers was rebuffed by the Oklahoma Supreme Court this week when it ruled the state’s law allowing such a practice was unconstitutional.

The measure, enacted by Oklahoma in 2013, gave employers the ability to “opt out” of the state workers’ compensation system and write their own plans, setting the terms for what injuries were covered, which doctors workers could see, how workers were compensated and how disputes were handled. A similar law is also on the books in Texas.

But the big business boondoggle backed by the likes of Walmart, Whole Foods, Lowes and Macy’s hit a roadblock earlier this year when the Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Commission ruled it was unconstitutional. And several Southern states expected to enact legislation for such a system have instead at least temporarily halted such efforts.

Now, even in conservative Oklahoma, the courts are saying enough. Enough to the corporate class trying to set public policy, enough to crony capitalism put in place by lawmakers who feed at the trough of some of the nation’s largest companies.

Workers injured on the job cannot be shunted aside by corporations who no longer have any use for them. It is unfair to them and it is unfair to the nation at large who too often are left to shoulder the financial burden of those who can no longer work and aren’t receiving proper coverage from their employer.

As the Teamsters noted in its Let’s Get America Working platform, workers’ rights and protections are important to ensuring this is a nation that benefits all of its citizens, not just business interests. It’s good to see some are realizing the error of their ways.