Hawaii Employment Law Cases from January 14, 2018 to January 20, 2018 – Jeffrey S. Harris

U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals

The District Court properly granted summary judgment against claims of discrimination, termination and wrongful discharge. An employer discharged a former employee after an internal investigation revealed that he vandalized another employee’s vehicle. The former employee failed to identify any similarly situated employees enjoying more favorable treatment or other circumstances suggesting racial discrimination motivated the employer’s discharge decision. The former supervisor’s isolated discriminatory remarks had no connection with the later employment decision. There was no causal connection between termination and any protected activity. Tukay v. United Airlines, Inc., 2018 U.S. App. Lexis 1135 (9th Cir. Jan. 17, 2018).

U.S. District Court for District of Hawaii

The District Court granted summary judgment against negligent hiring and training claims. Injured plaintiffs offered no evidence that the employer knew of the employees’ alleged dangerous propensities before hiring them. The employer conducted interviews, background checks and psychological and physical evaluations of applicants. Information concerning an applicant's past violent behavior, and psychological, behavioral, and emotional problems were of special concern in hiring. The employees successfully completed the process. None of the employees had been indicted for, or convicted of, any crime of violence, or had a history of drug use, behavioral, or emotional disorders. The Plaintiffs offered no evidence that the employer negligently trained the employees regarding the use of force. The District Court denied summary judgment against the negligent supervision claim. The Plaintiffs offered enough evidence to create a material dispute of fact whether the employer should have known of the need to supervise the employees, to prevent acts not within the scope of the employees’ employment while under the supervisor's control.  Kaahu v. Randall, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 8395 (D. Haw. Jan. 18, 2018).

The District Court denied motion to dismiss the claim that the deputy chief aided and abetted retaliation. The former employee’s allegations plausibly explained how the supervisor’s conduct substantially assisted the chief’s alleged retaliator scheme. The District Court granted motion to dismiss intentional infliction of the emotional distress claim, without prejudice. Opening an investigation after receiving a report of animal cruelty was not sufficiently outrageous conduct to support the claim. Begley v. Cty. of Kauai, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 6924 (D. Haw. Jan. 16, 2018).

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