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The Oklahoma Department of Labor was created by the Oklahoma Constitution in 1907. In August of that year, delegates from the Twin-Territorial Federation of Labor, the State Farmers' Union and the Railroad Brotherhoods met in Shawnee, Oklahoma, to formulate a list of demands for the upcoming constitutional convention. One demand called for the establishment of a State Labor Department.
Consequently, when the new state constitution was ratified by the delegates to the constitutional convention in 1907, the Oklahoma Department of Labor was created. Since its inception, the department has functioned continuously under many different commissioners and governors.
The first commissioner, Charles A. Daugherty served two four-year terms from 1907 to 1915. At that time the Labor Department was located in Guthrie, as were all state agencies. The original staff consisted of five people: a commissioner, an assistant commissioner, a state factory inspector, a superintendent of the State Free Employment Bureau and a stenographer.
The Commissioner of Labor shares the responsibility of protecting the health, safety, and welfare of the citizens of Oklahoma. The Oklahoma Department of Labor enforces statutes relating to wage and hour; child labor; asbestos;licensing;alternative fuels; amusement rides; boilers; welders;alarm and locksmith; elevator inspections; and safety and health in the workplace (OSHA/PEOSH).
Melissa McLawhorn Houston became Oklahoma’s Commissioner of Labor on November 20th, 2015.
Charles A. Daugherty
First Labor Commissioner
Early Labor Department Employees