Federal Court Must Sever and Remand Oklahoma Retaliatory Discharge Claim

On Tuesday, a federal district court in Oklahoma, noting that claims arising under the workers’ compensation laws of any state are not removable under 28 U.S.C.A. § 1445(c), held that when a case was removed from state court based on federal question jurisdiction but the case also contained a non-removable Oklahoma workers’ compensation retaliation claim, the federal court was required to sever and remand the non-removable claim and retain all other removed claims that were within the Court’s original or supplemental jurisdiction [see Lange v. John Zink Co., LLC, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 41452 (Mar. 31, 2015)].

The plaintiff initially filed the retaliatory discharge claim in Oklahoma state court, but subsequently amended her complaint to add a claim under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The defendant then removed the case on the basis of federal question jurisdiction. The parties agreed that the federal court could not hear the retaliation claim, but plaintiff asked the federal district court to award her reasonable fees and costs incurred as a result of improper removal. The court declined to do so. The court observed that defendant’s removal was based upon objectively reasonable grounds—namely, the presence of a federal question-and not pursued in bad faith. As such, an award of fees and costs was not warranted.

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