Hawaii Employment Law Cases August 13, 2017 to August 19, 2107 – Jeffrey S. Harris

Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals

District Court properly granted summary judgment against discriminatory failure to promote claim.  Supervisor alleged saying employee interfered with promotion process did not undermine employer’s legitimate non-discriminatory reasons employee did not receive promotion- concerns about his skills and the quality of his interview - were pretexts for discrimination.  Disciplinary action plan was legitimate reason for denying transfer requests.  Guyton v. Nordisk, 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 15537 (9th Cir. Aug. 17, 2017).

Laid off employee made prima facie case of age discrimination.  He showed he was at least 40 years old, performing his job satisfactorily, discharged and had his duties performed by other employees.  Employer provided legitimate non-discriminatory individualized reasons for selecting him for lay off, including his relatively high salary, relatively low guest contact and revenue function and understaffing in other departments.  Employer’s failure to transfer employee to unavailable positions, decision that another employee could better perform some of his functions, reliance on management’s own perceptions about guest impact and deviations from its own reduction in force guidelines (which could sometimes but in this case) did not show the employer’s reasons were pretext for age discrimination.  Merrick v. Hilton Worldwide, Inc., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 15374 (9th Cir. Aug. 16, 2017).

District Cproperly granted summary judgment on retaliatory hostile work environment claim because former employee failed to raise genuine dispute of material fact whether she was subject to conduct severe or pervasive enough to alter the conditions of her employment.  Haughton v. Brennan, 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 15421 (9th Cir. Aug. 16, 2017).

District Court instructions to jury that awarded Department of Labor $662,589.62 in back wages and liquidated damages against restaurant and spa employers jointly were not ‘plainly erroneous’- the standard- because employer failed to object.  Jury likely understood their function to decide whether one manager had enough contacts with both employers and willfully violated the FLSA.  Instruction informing jury that fear of future actions could be retaliatory adverse action correctly covered threatened discharge or loss of benefits and was harmless because there were reduction of hours and termination involved.  Acosta v. Zhao Zeng Hong, 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 15236 (9th Cir. Aug. 15, 2017).

District Court properly granted summary judgment against discrimination claim.  Former employee failed to raise genuine dispute of material fact whether she was performing according to the employer’s expectations, whether employer treated similarly situated employees outside her protected class more favorably, or whether her employer’s legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons for its actions were pretextual.  She failed to raise a genuine dispute of material fact whether or not there was causal link between her protected activity and her termination.  Hubbard v. Wash. Dep’t of Corr., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 15259 (9th Cir. Aug. 15, 2017)

Individual alleged consumer reporting operator published inaccurate report about him on its website, and willfully violated procedural requirements under Fair Credit Reporting Act, including failing to follow reasonable procedures to assure the accuracy of the information in his consumer report.  His allegations were sufficiently particularized and concrete to give him constitutional standing to sue the operator.  Robins v. Spokeo, Inc., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 15211 (9th Cir. Aug. 15, 2017).

District Court properly granted summary judgment against discrimination claim.  Declining business conditions and hiring freeze were legitimate nondiscriminatory reason for employer demoting employee and employee did not show they were pretext for discrimination.  Stripping job duties and supervisory duties without explanation and disputes about bonus and stock decisions were not sufficiently severe or pervasive to comprise harassment.  Day v. LSI Corp., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 15231 (9th Cir. Aug. 15, 2017).

District Court properly dismissed Title VII and ADA claims related to lay off because 300-day statutes of limitations barred claims. District Court properly dismissed Title VII and ADA claims related to rejection of his employment applications because employee failed to allege facts sufficient to show employer treated him less favorably than others outside of his protected class, or that he was disabled or perceived as disabled within the meaning of the ADA when he applied for these positions.  Hayes v. NASSCO, 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 15268 (Aug. 15, 2017).

Note: We analyze cases to learn rules courts will follow or disappoint us if they do not. Rules courts follow allow us to behave and provide explanations they accept. Competent advocates may limit the rules to the facts of the case that discuss them, or expand the rules by showing differences in other cases are irrelevant.