56 Attorneys from Conner & Winters Named to The Best Lawyers in America© 2016

Conner & Winters is proud to announce that 56 of the firm’s lawyers were recently selected by their peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© 2016.  Congratulations to: Victor F. Albert, Mark H. Bennett, Mark D. Berman, Gary L. Betow, Debbie L. Blackwell, Paul E. Braden, Elise Dunitz Brenan, Teresa Meinders Burkett, David R. Cordell, Katherine G. Coyle, Robert A. Curry, Mark E. Dreyer, John R. Elrod, Robin F. Fields, Melodie Freeman-Burney, John W. Funk, Jared D. Giddens, Kevin H. Good, James E. Green, Jr., Bradley R. Grundy, P. Scott Hathaway, Tony W. Haynie, John W. Ingraham, Robert L. Jones, III, Todd P. Lewis, Larry B. Lipe, R. Richard Love, III, Steven W. McGrath, Robert J. Melgaard, G. Daniel Miller, Randall D. Mock, Lynnwood R. Moore, Jr., C. Raymond Patton, Jr., J. Ronald Petrikin, Kiran A. Phansalkar, Douglas M. Rather, R. Kevin Redwine, John R. Reeves, Greg S. Scharlau, John M. Scott, Douglas M. Selwyn, Eric S. Smith, Terral J. Smith, Gentra Abbey Sorem, Irwin H. Steinhorn, Robert J. Stokes, Anne B. Sublett, Jason S. Taylor, Jeanette C. Timmons, Timothy T. Trump, Andrew R. Turner, Nancy E. Vaughn, Stephen R. Ward, Henry G. Will, Martin R. Wing and G. Alan Wooten.


Sac and Fox Nation and Sons of Jim Thorpe Continue Legal Effort to Repatriate His Remains

The Sac and Fox Nation of Oklahoma and the sons of Jim Thorpe have taken their longstanding fight to repatriate the legendary athlete’s remains to the United States Supreme Court.

On June 2, 2015, the tribe and Jim Thorpe’s two surviving sons, Richard Thorpe and William Thorpe, filed a petition for a writ of certiorari asking the Supreme Court to uphold a United States district judge’s ruling that the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act—known as “NAGPRA”—required a small town in Pennsylvania to participate in a repatriation proceeding. The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit reversed the federal district court’s ruling in October 2014 on the basis of a legal doctrine not recognized by the Supreme Court for decades.

The appeal to the Supreme Court is the latest step in the litigation begun in 2010 by another son of Jim Thorpe, John or “Jack” Thorpe, who died two years later. The Sac and Fox Nation and the two surviving Thorpe brothers continued the case represented by Stephen Ward and Daniel Gomez, both attorneys in the Conner & Winters, LLP, Indian law practice. Brian Wolfman and Jeffrey L. Fisher of the Stanford Law School Supreme Court Litigation Clinic serve as co-counsel in Supreme Court appeal.

Click here to read more.


Jewelie Grape Joins Conner & Winters

Jewelie Grape has joined Conner & Winters as a partner.  She focuses her practice on executive compensation and employee benefits. She advises clients on a wide range of compensation and benefits issues such as ERISA compliance, health care reform and other benefits-related state and federal laws, including HIPAA. Ms. Grape helps clients design, implement and maintain defined benefit plans, defined contribution plans, nonqualified deferred compensation plans, stock option plans, health plans and cafeteria plans.

She has extensive experience with benefits plans not governed by ERISA and advises church benefit and other organizations on a variety of board governance, general corporate, tax, and employee benefit (including 403(b) and 457(b) and (f) plan) issues. Ms. Grape has acquired valuable business counseling skills while serving as in-house counsel for nine years managing day-to-day legal issues and overseeing complex litigation matters.


CLIENT ALERT: Does the Supreme Court’s Recent Decision Interpreting the Federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act Require Employers to Change their Employment Policies?

The law has been in flux regarding the obligation an employer has to offer the same accommodations for pregnancy that are available to other workers with medical restrictions. If company policy affords light duty to a worker injured “on the job,” for example, must light duty also be available to a worker whose pregnancy imposes similar physical limitations? Or, if a worker receives an ADA accommodation, must the same accommodation be available to a non-disabled but pregnant employee? Click here to read the full alert.


EMPLOYER ALERT: Full Sixth Circuit Reins in Duty to Offer Telecommuting as an ADA Accommodation

Rejecting a panel decision issued last year, the en banc U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit held last week that the Ford Motor Company did not need to provide telecommuting as an accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act.Click here  to read the full alert.


CLIENT ALERT: SEC Announces First Whistleblower Enforcement Action Involving Restrictive Language In Confidentiality Agreements.

The Securities and Exchange Commission recently announced its “first enforcement action against a company for using improperly restrictive language in confidentiality agreements with the potential to stifle the whistleblowing process,” according to a recent SEC press release. Click here to read the full alert.


2014 Recap of District of Columbia Employment Law Legislation

Last year the District of Columbia considered several bills strengthening local employment laws. Some legislation did not ultimately become law, and on the whole the laws that were implemented do not impose significant new substantive burdens on employers— although they do increase penalties and require employers to supply employees with various notices.  Click here to read the complete recap.


Conner & Winters Names Four New Partners

Conner & Winters, LLP has named four attorneys as partners of the firm.  The new partners are: Matthew J. Allen, Daniel E. Gomez, Angela L. Smoot and Christopher R. Wilson.

“We are thrilled to announce the addition of four exceptional and hard-working attorneys to our partnership ranks.  These promotions further demonstrate our depth of resources and commitment to the highest level of service in a wide variety of practice areas, including Energy, Mergers & Acquisitions, Native American, Litigation, Corporate/Securities and Family Law,” said Mark D. Berman, president of Conner & Winters.  Read More



The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) recently announced a final rule requiring employers to notify OSHA when an employee is killed on the job or suffers a work-related hospitalization, amputation or loss of an eye.  The old rule (29 C.F.R. 1904.39) required an employer of any size to orally report within 8 hours any workplace fatality or any accident involving hospitalization of 3 or more employees to the OSHA area office nearest the accident.  The new rule still requires reporting fatalities within 8 hours, but now requires reporting single hospitalizations, as well as amputations or loss of an eye, within 24 hours.  It takes effect January 1, 2015.  Click here to read the Client Alert


Daniel E. Gomez Named to Collaborative Bar Leadership Academy

Daniel Gomez, attorney in the firm’s Tulsa office, has been selected by the Hispanic National Bar Association to participate in the 2014 Class of the Collaborative Bar Leadership Academy.  This academy is highly selective–only 75 were selected from applicants and nominees across the nation.  Daniel’s selection truly is an honor, in view of the competitive nature of the selection process and the nationwide scope of the program.  The academy will be conducted June 26-28 in Minneapolis. The program speakers will include corporate leaders, judges, and national bar association leaders.



Conner & Winters, LLP, one of the premier full-service law firms in the South Central Region of the United States, is pleased to announce the Firm’s newly-elected management team. Mark D. Berman, of Tulsa, Oklahoma, will assume the role of President, and his immediate predecessor, Steven W. McGrath, also from Tulsa, will serve as Chairman. Melodie Freeman-Burney, Tulsa, will serve as the Secretary and Chief Operating Officer, and R. Kevin Redwine, Tulsa, will become the Chief Financial Officer. Jared D. Giddens, of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Randolph L. Jones, of Dallas, Texas, Scott P. Hathaway, of Tulsa, and Todd P. Lewis, of Fayetteville, Arkansas, will also serve on the Executive Committee.  Read more