Chris S. Thrutchley
Since 1993, Chris Thrutchley has counseled employers of all sizes and types regarding best labor and employment law practices and has defended employers in labor, employment, ERISA, and business litigation around the country. Chris’s complementary experiences as Chief of the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office of Civil Rights Enforcement (OCRE) enforcing Oklahoma and federal anti-discrimination laws and as an HR director serving one of Tulsa’s largest unionized employers gives him unique and valuable insight when advising clients on labor, employment, and employee relations issues and when defending them in litigation, arbitration, and administrative proceedings.
In 2016, the American Arbitration Association admitted Chris to its national panel of employment law arbitrators. Chris arbitrates and mediates employment disputes around the country. Chris also has been retained as an expert witness to testify regarding best HR and employment practices.
As an Assistant Attorney General and Chief of the OCRE, Chris built effective, collaborative working relationships with local and regional EEOC leaders and litigators and negotiated the OCRE’s first Work-Sharing Agreement with the EEOC. Chris led a team of attorneys and agents in conducting neutral fact-finding investigations and conciliation of complaints of discrimination, harassment and retaliation in employment, housing, and public accommodation. He also led the prosecution of the OCRE’s first harassment, discrimination, and retaliation enforcement actions in Oklahoma history.
While serving as director of HR with responsibility for more than 3,250 union and non-union employees, Chris provided strategic HR consultation and support for senior leadership and management. He assisted the CHRO in managing labor relations, grievance resolution, contract negotiation and daily contract administration. Chris also audited and updated HR policies and procedures to conform to best practices.
Chris is certified by the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) as a Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP) and by the Human Resources Certification Institute (HRCI) as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR). He has been a member of the American Inns of Court Hudson, Hall, Wheaton Chapter; a past Chairman of the Oklahoma Bar Association Labor and Employment Law Section; a past VP of Legal and Legislative Affairs for the Tulsa Area HR Association; a past VP of Programs for the Tulsa EEO Coordinators Association; and a former board member of the OBA’s Young Lawyers Division. Chris is a frequently requested author and speaker on labor, employment, and HR topics.
- Secured the State’s first judgment in an Oklahoma Antidiscrimination Act enforcement action, recovering full monetary and injunctive relief on behalf of multiple victims of sexual harassment and retaliation.
- Achieved early resolution of Oklahoma federal court wage and hour litigation against an international transportation firm headquartered in Michigan.
- Defended multi-state property management company against discrimination, harassment, and retaliation claims in Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas.
- Obtained early dismissal of Tulsa federal court non-compete, non-solicitation, and unfair competition claims against a Kentucky energy services company.
- Defended Texas-based national lender in discrimination, harassment, and retaliation litigation and administrative proceedings around the country.
- Defended national transportation company headquartered in Wyoming against discrimination, harassment, and retaliation claims before the EEOC and in various state and federal courts.
- Defended international chemical company in misclassification, wage and hour, and wrongful termination litigation and administrative proceedings in Texas courts and before the Texas Workforce Commission.
- Defended employers in administrative proceedings and litigation involving ADA and FMLA claims.
- Regularly assist with and conduct internal investigations of complaints of harassment, discrimination, retaliation, and other employment matters.
- Regularly assist with and respond to charges of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation filed with the EEOC and state fair employment practice agencies.
- Regularly advise employers regarding auditing, updating, drafting, implementing, administering, and enforcing policies, procedures, and handbooks to conform to legal developments and best practices.
- Frequently draft and enforce employment contracts, arbitration agreements, non-compete, non-solicit, non-disclosure, and severance agreements.
- Regularly advise clients regarding compliant recruiting, selection, and hiring processes, including latest developments concerning background checks and other pre-employment screening issues.
- Regularly advise clients regarding non-discriminatory, non-retaliatory discipline and discharge processes and strategies.
- Regularly represent employers before various state and federal agencies, such as the Oklahoma Department of Labor, U.S. Department of Labor, EEOC, State Fair Employment Practice Agencies, Oklahoma Employment Security Commission, and the Texas Workforce Commission.
- Successfully secured temporary restraining orders and temporary injunctive relief on behalf of employers in employment-related matters and experience defending against such proceedings.
- Representation of manufacturing, construction, and airline clients in labor relations matters, including grievance procedures, arbitration proceedings, administration of collective bargaining agreement terms and conditions, defense against unfair labor practice charges, assertion of ULPs, and representation before the NLRB.
- Counseling clients regarding effective, non-discriminatory reductions in force and reorganizations in compliance with the OWBPA and WARN Act, as well preparation of related severance agreements and required disclosures.
- Experience advising clients and providing training regarding compliance with all major employment laws (AA/EEO, ADA, ADEA, EPA, ERISA, FMLA, FLSA, GINA, HIPAA, IRCA, NLRA, OSHA, OWBPA, PDA, Title VII, WARN, USERRA).
- Regularly provides training on compliance with all major labor and employment laws and on best employment practices for minimizing risk of costly liability. Representative training topics: Harassment Prevention Training; Discrimination Prevention Training; Retaliation Prevention Training; How to Avoid ADA Claims; How to Discipline and Discharge Without Fear of Suit; Successfully Navigating the ADA Interactive Accommodation Process; FMLA Masters Class; Avoiding ADA, FMLA, and Workers’ Comp Landmines; Avoiding Wage and Hour Claims; Effective Recruiting, Selection, and Hiring; How to Avoid Unfair Labor Practice Charges.
J.D., University of Tulsa College of Law, 1993
B.A., Graceland University, 1989
AWARDS & HONORS
American Arbitration Association®
American Inns of Court
Oklahoma Bar Association
Tulsa County Bar Association
Tulsa Area HR Association
Tulsa EEO Coordinators Association