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Director named Alpha Phi sorority’s Woman of the Year

Kathryn Terry Web

The emphasis of Kathryn D. Terry’s litigation practice is in the areas of insurance coverage, labor and employment law and civil rights defense. She also represents corporations in complex litigation matters.

After 30 years of service to her sorority, one Alpha Phi alumna is being recognized by her peers.

Director Kathryn D. Terry will be honored at the Greater Oklahoma City Alumnae Panhellenic Association’s Women of the Year luncheon on April 3.

The annual fundraising event recognizes one extraordinary, local alumna member from each of the eighteen alumnae member sororities in Oklahoma City, said Kathleen Stevenson, President of the Greater Oklahoma City Alumnae Panhellenic Association.

“Each alumnae sorority group selects their own Woman of Year based on their own criteria, but I am sure you would agree that each is an accomplished woman whose contributions to her sorority and/or the community make her stand out,” Stevenson said. “Last year, we had over 400 attendees gathered at our luncheon at the Oklahoma City Golf and Country Club to recognize these women, and we look forward to honoring Kathy along with seventeen other outstanding Panhellenic women.”

Terry’s history with the sorority dates back to 1989 when she first pledged. She is currently President of the House Corporation Board which manages sorority house operations—including managing all staff, food service, maintenance and improvements—to support active members.

“I love working with smart, talented women in Alpha Phi and here in Oklahoma City,” Terry said. “I have made close friendships with successful women all over the country and right here in Oklahoma that I never would have known.

“Also, working with collegiate women to support them in their growth and new opportunities during the college years is terrifically rewarding, and well, fun!”

Terry’s legal practice has allowed her the opportunity to provide training to other house boards and house directors for Alpha Phis across the country on issues related to both employment law and insurance coverage, further fueling her commitment to the organization.

“I’ve always been proud to be an Alpha Phi,” she said. “Being recognized by my sisters and the women of the Greater Oklahoma City Alumnae Panhellenic Association is touching, and I am honored to be recognized among such terrific women who also give their time and talents, not only to their sororities after college, but to the Oklahoma City community in all of our endeavors.”

The Greater Oklahoma City Alumnae Panhellenic Association is a 501(c)(3) comprised of alumnae sorority members from the metro area dedicated to encouraging higher education for young women and promoting the ideals of scholarship, leadership and service which Panhellenic women have embodied for over one hundred years. All net proceeds from the luncheon support scholarships for graduating seniors from area high schools planning on attending Oklahoma colleges or universities, Stevenson said.

“In 2018, we were able to award fourteen $1,500 scholarships to outstanding high school senior women from the greater Oklahoma City area,” she said. “Over the past 21 years, we have awarded over $310,000 in scholarships.

“As college costs are continually rising, there are more young women in need of help to be able attend college.”

For more information about the Greater Oklahoma City Alumnae Panhellenic Association and scholarship opportunities, please visit the website here.

Business websites under legal pressure

Gavel to Gavel appears in The Journal Record. This column was originally published in The Journal Record on May 10, 2018.


Kathryn Terry

The emphasis of Kathryn D. Terry’s litigation practice is in the areas of insurance coverage, labor and employment law and civil rights defense. She also represents corporations in complex litigation matters.

By Phillips Murrah Director Kathryn D. Terry

The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in several areas, including employment, transportation, public accommodations, communications, and access to government programs and services.

The third section of ADA, Title III, addresses places of public accommodation, such as retailers, hospitals and state agencies. Under these rules, and in general, places of business are obligated to provide access to physical locations in the form of wheelchair ramps, signs that feature braille, and other means by which patronage of businesses is made possible for disabled persons.

Currently, similar attention is being focused on websites, as many businesses offer information and opportunities and conduct commerce via their website. Lawsuits are being brought claiming that these websites should be fully usable for persons with disabilities, just like brick-and-mortar locations.

To address Title III compliance, the World Wide Web Consortium developed an evolving set of standardized guidelines for improving accessibility to website content. The most recent, widely accepted version is called Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 AA, commonly referred to as WCAG 2.0 AA, which recommend, among many suggestions, text alternatives to graphics for visual disabilities, and captions to audio for those with hearing impairments.

Within the past few years, growing exponentially in 2017, lawsuits on behalf of disabled persons have been filed claiming website-related violations of ADA Title III. Recently, the lawsuits have been coming in waves, with online retailers being the first obvious targets, followed by online financial institutions, such as banks and credit unions, both large and small.

While there are no laws mandating WCAG 2.0 AA compliance at this time, the absence of any regulatory requirement does not shield businesses from ADA liability under Title III. Most businesses that have more than 15 full-time employees are subject to the ADA, and even if a business has less than 15, Oklahoma’s state law still applies.

However, in Oklahoma, there is a new statute that requires prior notice and an opportunity to cure the website issues in advance of any litigation under state law only. Businesses should consider this statute carefully if they receive a demand or lawsuit.

Many businesses are smartly getting ahead of this issue by reviewing their websites to identify potential accessibility barriers and implementing WCAG 2.0 AA guidelines as part of regular IT upgrades.

Kathryn D. Terry is a director at the law firm of Phillips Murrah.

NewsOK Q&A: Not all jokes, propositions necessarily workplace sexual harassment

From NewsOK / by Paula Burkes
Published: November 14, 2017
Click to see full story – Not all jokes, propositions necessarily workplace sexual harassment

Click to see Kathryn D. Terry’s attorney profile

The emphasis of Kathryn D. Terry’s litigation practice is in the areas of insurance coverage, labor and employment law and civil rights defense.

Q: What is sexual harassment?

A: The word “harassment” gets thrown around and used in a lot of contexts. or employment law purposes, unlawful sexual harassment is conduct in a work-related environment that reasonable persons would characterize as offensive and sexual in nature, which actually offends a person and can be said to affect the terms of conditions of the sufferer’s employment.

Q: What does “work-related” mean?

A: First, unlawful sexual harassment doesn’t just occur at work or work events. In fact, more often than not, harassment takes place outside the office and after hours. All of the following are common: one co-worker shows up on the doorstep of another, uninvited and unwelcome; after work drinks; work-related texts that turn personal. If the relationship is primarily work-related and a problem develops, it could be an issue for the employer. Secondly, the employer must actually be an “employer.” Today, almost every employer engages independent contractors and consultants — people who are not employees. If one or both of the persons involved aren’t actually employees, while the conduct at issue may be offensive, even reprehensible or unlawful, it may not be sexual harassment. For example, if an employee makes unwelcome and offensive advances to a courier or caterer who isn’t an employee but interacts with the company and its personnel, that isn’t technically sexual harassment for employment law purposes. Incidentally, although an employer in this situation may not be required to address the situation, it should. If another instance occurs, the first incident likely would demonstrate the employer had notice of bad conduct by the employee but took no remedial action.

Q: How offensive is offensive?

A: First, the proverbial “reasonable person” has to be offended. What offends someone in Oklahoma may be commonplace elsewhere. Every joke, or even every proposition, isn’t necessarily harassment. If a co-worker invites another co-worker out to dinner, the second declines and that’s the end of story, that exchange is not very likely to be characterized as sexual harassment here in middle-America, regardless of whether the invitee was actually offended by the invitation. Second, actual offense must occur. One co-worker could make routine, crude, offensive, sexual remarks toward a specific co-worker. However, if those remarks aren’t offensive to the recipient (he or she takes them, rightfully so, as jokes), there’s no sexual harassment, no matter how vulgar the remarks may be. There are important caveats to be considered, however. Oftentimes persons who complain about long-standing harassment say they went along with the behavior hoping it would stop, fearing retaliation or thinking it was a joke and then it turned more serious. Thus, if a situation like this develops in the workplace, a prudent employer not only will inquire of the persons involved as to their comfort levels, but also will direct the employees involved, regardless of their congenial relationship, to tone it down and be respectful not only of each other, but also of other co-workers who are present.

Q: How bad does sexual harassment have to be to be deemed harassment?

A: The buzzwords are that is has to adversely affect the “terms and conditions” of employment; it has to make the sufferer’s job worse in a meaningful way. But, for example, repeatedly asking out a co-worker despite being rebuffed and asked to cease the invitations, probably can be considered harassment. Moreover, as recent news events demonstrate, one severe incident can be very significant harassment. Conversely, little and subtle remarks and conduct over time can be detrimental to a person’s employment environment and an employer who knows of this type of conduct but fails to take action does so at its peril. A couple of major red flags also exist. If the employee alleging harassment also suffers an adverse economic impact (for example, demotion, reassignment or failure to give a bonus) or if there’s any kind of physical contact (even an unwelcome hug), very careful scrutiny of the events and the relationship is warranted.

Director addresses workplace environments for OMCCA

The emphasis of Kathryn D. Terry’s litigation practice is in the areas of insurance coverage, labor and employment law and civil rights defense.

The emphasis of Kathryn D. Terry’s litigation practice is in the areas of insurance coverage, labor and employment law and civil rights defense.

Director Kathryn D. Terry spoke at the Oklahoma Municipal Court Clerks Association‘s annual conference on May 17 at Oklahoma State University.

Terry addressed issues on dress code dilemmas in the 21st century workplace, employee accountability, and conflict avoidance.

“The Oklahoma Municipal Court Clerks Association is made of municipal court clerks from all over Oklahoma,” she said. “The clerks face a variety of unique issues in their varied work environments, and I addressed how to navigate challenging dynamics due to rapid technology advancements, evolving social norms and state and federal laws regarding the work place.”

Phillips Murrah launches AM@PM Breakfast Forum series

AM@PM Event Logo for web

Jason A. Dunn

Jason A. Dunn

Bright and early Thursday morning, April 21, Oklahoma City law firm Phillips Murrah launched a new learning series called AM@PM Breakfast Forum. The hour-long presentation was held at Vast on the 50th floor of OKC’s iconic Devon Tower.

Firm Directors Jason A. Dunn and Kathyrn D. Terry each talked to attendees for about 20 minutes.

Jason addressed key considerations for identifying and protecting trade secrets and other proprietary information. This included steps to identify what processes and data have value, how to identify and defend its value, and what types of measures need to be in place to protect it from dissemination or use by employees, customers and competitors.

Kathy Terry

Kathyrn D. Terry

Kathy talked about the use of restrictive covenants and non-competes, including partnership and operating agreements. She also addressed considerations of what types of restrictive covenants that should be in place in the event of dissolution or a buy-out, what written agreements and policies effectively restrict the solicitation of a business’ customers and employees by former employees and contractors, and policies regarding electronic devices and data.

The event included breakfast prepared by Vast and a networking opportunity following the presentations. There was also a drawing for a pair of Oklahoma City Thunder Playoffs tickets.

AM@PM will be an ongoing series that will cover a range of topics that are important to businesses and individuals who wish to stay at the forefront of their industries, protect their businesses and keep informed about the ever-changing legal and regulatory landscape.

For information about the next AM@PM event, please fill out the form below.


AM@PM Sign-up

Sign up for the latest information about AM@PM events.

Softball tournament raises money for director’s charity

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The Police Department Rookies and the Fire Department Recruits started out the Matt Terry Memorial Softball Tournament with the first head-to-head match-up.

Phillips Murrah Director Kathy Terry hosted the third annual Matt Terry Memorial Softball Tournament on Sunday, September 27 in memory of her late husband, a much-loved figure at the Edmond Police Department who passed away unexpectedly on October 2, 2013.

Sixteen co-ed teams, including the police department, the fire department, News 9, Oklahoma Christian, Edmond Memorial High School, and local businesses, took to the diamond.

“Starting off it was the Police Department Rookies vs. the Fire Recruits,” Terry said. “Mid-morning, the Rookies played the reigning champs at Edmond Police Department, the Dingers, while the Recruits went head-to-head with the Fire Department veterans.”

In the end, the Dingers were unseated and a new champion arose – a community team of friends and alums of Edmond Memorial High School.

“We raised over $12,500 for the Matt Terry Memorial Fund, a non-profit that supports law enforcement officers and families in times of unusual need or tragedy,” Terry said. “In 2014, we raised over $15,000 for the Oklahoma chapter of the American Heart Association.”

Four presenting sponsors, including Philips Murrah, OU Medical Center Edmond, Homeland, and the Edmond law firm of Nelson Terry Morton DeWitt Paruolo & Wood have lead the way each year with donations and support, she said.

“Every year, Eagle Rub BBQ serves up pulled pork and MOB Grill throws down onion burgers without so much as even a penny to cover costs,” Terry said. “Dance Party Productions provides the music and the DJ – also totally for free.”

Other local businesses, including BancFirst of Edmond, the Oklahoman, Crest Foods, Sarah Lee, Everything Barbeque, R Meyers of Nichols Hills, Jewels by Simpson, Weathers TV and more made contributions of money, raffle and auction items, and their time and support to contribute to the day.

 

 

Univ. of Texas v. Nassar The United States Supreme Court Limits Workplace Retaliation Claims.

The Supreme Court, in The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center v. Nassar, No. 12-484, made it more difficult for employees to win retaliation lawsuits under Title VII. The Court decided a worker who claims retaliation must prove that retaliation was the reason the employer took the adverse action, not merely one of several motives.

The Court’s decision subjects such claims to a “but-for” causation test, as opposed to the “motivating  factor” test that applies to typical status-based discrimination claims under Title VII.

 

When Nassar, a faculty member at the University of Texas resigned, he sent a letter to several other faculty members complaining that his resignation was the result of ethnic and religious harassment and discrimination. One of Nassar’s supervisors took issue with the manner in which Nassar left, and thereafter took steps to block Nassar’s continued employment at a hospital affiliated with the university.  Nassar sued for discrimination and constructive discharge based on his ethnicity and religion, and for retaliation, alleging his former employer retaliated against him by blocking his employment at the hospital. For its part, the university defended stating that, even absent any retaliatory motive, the hospital’s employment of Nassar was a breach of the agreement between the hospital and the university – a non-discriminatory motive for its objection to Nassar’s employment.

After a jury verdict in Nassar’s favor, the university appealed.  At issue was the causation standard applicable to Nassar’s retaliation claim. There is no doubt that under Title VII, typical status-based discrimination claims are subject to the “motivating factor” causation test.  An employee must show that a discriminatory motive (like religious or ethnic bias) was merely one of the factors contributing to the challenged actions.  This test is the result of the well-known Price Waterhousecase and a resulting Congressional amendment to Title VII.

 

However, Congress did not amend the section of Title VII relating to retaliation claims. Thus, after an analysis of the differing verbiage in the various sections of Title VII, the Supreme Court held that “retaliation claims must be proven according to the traditional principles of but-for causation” and this requires proof that the alleged retaliation would not have occurred in absence of a retaliatory motive. The verdict against the University of Texas was reversed.

 

Employers have struggled with retaliation claims; they can be problematic even when no discrimination occurred in the first place.  The bottom line is the Nassaropinion will be instrumental in defending your company against bogus retaliation claims and, more importantly, gives employers a bit more comfort when making performance and disciplinary actions regarding employees who have previously challenged alleged discrimination.  Let us know what you think the implications of this decision are for your business!

Kathryn D. Terry is a director at Phillips Murrah and a member of the Firm’s Litigation Department. Kathy advises employers on employment related matters, including training, discipline and compliance, and represents them from the onset of litigation and through all appeals. Her practice also includes insurance coverage, insurance defense, civil and constitutional rights litigation.

Phillips Murrah Names Shareholders

OKLAHOMA CITY – Phillips Murrah has named Catherine L. Campbell, Jason A. Dunn, G. Calvin Sharpe and Kathryn D. Terry as shareholders. Campbell specializes in appellate practice in both state and federal courts of appeal. Dunn’s practice is primarily focused on defending clients in commercial litigation. Sharpe is a trial attorney who specializes in medical malpractice and catastrophic personal injury defense. Terry’s primary areas of practice are insurance coverage, labor and employment and civil rights defense. – Staff report

Firm welcomes new employment attorney

NOVEMBER 4, 2008 – The firm announces the addition of Kathryn D. Terry to the litigation department. Terry, who recently served as a general counsel of a large Oklahoma company, focuses her law practice in the areas of labor and employment and insurance coverage and defense.

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