Information regarding Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Oklahoma Bar Association and the Coronavirus
Consistent with OBA’s Aims and Objectives (below), for Coronavirus (COVID-19) we have compiled resources below for your use and information from the State of Oklahoma, as well as the federal Center for Disease Control (CDC), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Oklahoma District Courts. As this issue is developing quickly, we urge you to revisit the pages at these links below for new information which is being posted daily.
Oklahoma Court Resources and Information
Lawyers may contact the local court directly to determine if their local court has changed course as a result of COVID-19. OSCN also has a comprehensive Notices webpage which includes every county's current status as reported.
- Appellate Filings Notice: Procedures for appellate filings in all civil and criminal matters (beginning May 18)
- SCAD No. 2020-39: Order Regarding the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, And Economic Security Act
- SCAD No. 2020-36: Supreme Court & Court of Criminal Appeals Third Emergency Joint Order Regarding the COVID-19 State of Disaster
- SCAD No. 2020-29: Supreme Court & Court of Criminal Appeals Second Emergency Joint Order Regarding the COVID-19 State of Disaster
- SCAD No. 2020-26: Supreme Court Second Emergency Order Regarding the COVID-19 State of Disaster
- SCAD No. 2020-24: Supreme Court & Court of Criminal Appeals First Emergency Joint Order Regarding the COVID-19 State of Disaster
- OSCN Notices of Emergency Changes in District Courts in Oklahoma
- OSCN Latest News
- Oklahoma District Court Pandemic Influenza Bench Book (PDF)
- Tulsa County Jail Attorney Visitation Guidelines (updated April 6) (PDF)
- Guidelines: Depositions by Videoconference
CARES Act Resources for Property Owners and Renters
The OBA Access to Justice Committee wants all Oklahoma lawyers to be aware of the basic provisions important to both property owners and renters under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act).
The provision provides protections for renters who have become unemployed, lost wages, or are under financial strain due to the coronavirus. It further provides relief for property owners of federally funded housing or federally backed mortgages. Many evictions are now pending in Oklahoma state courts. This guide, in PDF format, is designed to inform about CARES Act provisions that impact both plaintiffs and defendants in these proceedings.
Oklahoma-specific Resources and Information
Information from the Office of the Governor, State Department of Health, Office of Emergency Management and other Oklahoma agencies.
- Oklahoma COVID-19 Call Center 877-215-8336 (Monday-Friday 9 a.m.-7 p.m., Saturday: 9 a.m.-3 p.m.)
- Executive Orders of Governor Stitt
- Gov. Stitt clarification of "essential services" (PDF)
- Department of Public Safety extends expiration date, suspends tests (PDF)
- Oklahoma COVID-19 Resources
- Oklahoma Employment Security Commission unemployment benefits information and claims forms
- 2016 Oklahoma Pandemic Response Plan (currently under review for COVID-19 adaptation)
- Continuity of Operations (COOP)
Federal and National Resources and Information
Links to ABA materials as well as Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) information.
- May Supreme Court Teleconference Oral Arguments
- Free Resource Tracking State/Federal Laws, Executive Orders & Regulations
- Mental Health Resources for the Legal Profession During COVID-19 (PDF)
- Coronavirus (COVID-19): Small Business Guidance & Loan Resources
- IRS FAQs: Employee Retention Credit under the CARES Act
- SBA Covid-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan Application
- U.S. Department of Labor Coronavirus Resources
- CDC Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) general information
- CDC Resources for Businesses and Employers
- CDC Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers
- CDC Informational flier for workplaces, schools, homes and commercial establishments (PDF)
- General pandemic information
- FEMA Continuity Planning Checklist (PDF)
- Ready Business Continuity Planning Suite
Law Practice Tips for Dealing With the Cornonavirus
Daily tips will be posted to help lawyers as the COVID-19 crisis continues to create unique challenges. See the latest tip below or view all the tips on the Daily Tips on Practicing in a Crisis page.
I know an Oklahoma lawyer who doesn’t understand why so many lawyers use high-powered computers. He and his staff use Chromebooks. That just wouldn’t work for me. I’m a heavy multitasker that uses speech recognition and other resource hogging tools. But for law firms who need to send staff to work from home, it is…
Resources for Employers
- Oklahoma Employer Security Commission: Employer FAQs about Unemployment Insurance and COVID-19
- National Law Review Coronavirus and COVID-19 Updates for Employers
- JD Supra Coronavirus: An Employer's Action Guide
Below are a few FAQs curated from the above resources.
Can an employer restrict travel to all locations under a CDC travel advisory?
An employer may restrict business travel. Employers should continue to consult the CDC’s website: “Coronavirus Disease 2019 Information for Travel” for up-to-date travel notices concerning risk. The CDC advises that employers restrict all nonessential travel to areas with a Warning Level 3, and to exercise caution regarding travel to Warning Level 2 areas. Level 3 countries include China, Italy, Iran, and South Korea. Japan is a level 2 country.
Can I restrict my employees from traveling on Spring Break?
No, employers may not restrict personal travel. But employers can ask where the employee has traveled, and if the employee has traveled to an area designed Level 3 by the CDC, you may ask the employee to self-isolate upon return.
Can I require employees to stay home if they are sick?
Yes. The challenge arises regarding whether the employee will be paid during that time, and whether that time off is attributed to vacation or other type of paid time off. Each employer will have to find the right answer for itself. The CDC advises that you can require an employee to be fever-and-symptom-free for 24 hours. Consider a temporary suspension on your illness policy; yes, there may be an employee who will abuse this but a generous policy can potentially stop a serious outbreak within your company.
Can I require employees to wash their hands?
Yes, according to the Americans with Disabilities Act. And, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, employers have the obligation to provide a reasonably safe workplace. So, you should be encouraging employees to take such measures.
Can I ask employees to disclose if they have a compromised immune system or chronic health condition?
No. An inquiry asking an employee to disclose a compromised immune system or a chronic health condition is disability-related because the response is likely to disclose the existence of a disability. The ADA does not permit such an inquiry in the absence of objective evidence that pandemic symptoms will cause a direct threat. Such evidence is completely absent before a pandemic occurs.
What can I do if I suspect an employee has COVID-19?
You may ask if the employee has symptoms such as fever or a dry cough. You can also direct employees who have virus-like symptoms or who are at high risk for infection (they live in a house where someone else has in infection) to go home.
If the situation in the United States worsens, do some rules change with a pandemic?
Perhaps. The EEOC has advised, for example, that taking the temperature of all employees may violate the ADA under some circumstances, but has indicated that the rules may change during a pandemic such that the illness may pose a “direct threat” to others. However, the CDC has yet to rule COVID-19 an official pandemic in the United States.
Aims and Objectives
The Oklahoma Bar Association is critically aware of the need for implementation of a comprehensive program to effectively provide educational assistance to those victims of a mass disaster in an effort to prevent overreaching and inappropriate solicitation of those victims in their time of pain and sorrow.
- To prepare and implement a program to effectively respond to a mass disaster situation.
- To prepare the participating members of the Oklahoma Bar Association to effectively respond to disaster situations by the development of plans and procedures to be followed.
- To provide information during times of disaster to the public about the role of lawyers and the legal system to help build and preserve the confidence of the public in the legal system.
- To coordinate all activity in this area in cooperation with the various federal, state, and local agencies.
- To provide assistance after the disaster situation to ensure that all victims of said disaster are protected from unethical conduct from any source.