Politics and Government
7:03 pm
Thu August 7, 2014

Who Hires, Fires Workers Compensation Commission Staff Ambiguous’

Oklahoma Workers Compensation Commission
Oklahoma Workers Compensation Commission
Credit Oklahoma Workers Compensation Commission

Exactly who is responsible for hiring and firing Workers Compensation Commission employees may be a matter for the Attorney General’s Office to consider and the Legislature to fix.

That’s because provisions in the law regarding employment at the agency “…are ambiguous and susceptible to more than one interpretation,” a senior assistant attorney general told the commissioners Wednesday.

“The problem that we are having here is determining, based on your statutes, who’s appointed by the commission, who the chair can appoint, and in this situation some of these people were carry-overs from the old system…The statutes are ambiguous on it,” Senior Assistant Attorney General Sandra Rinehart explained Wednesday.

Employment matters for the commission became complicated July 1. From shortly after its inception in November 2013 to the opening of its doors in February and until the start of the new fiscal year, the commission and the Workers Compensation Court operated under an employee-sharing agreement.

When that ended, the court retained the employees it needed to conduct its ongoing operations as the Workers Compensation Court of Existing Claims and the remainder became staffers of the commission. Comments made in the commission’s public meetings indicate it had neither the workload to justify nor the budget to pay that many employees.

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