Hawaii Employment Law Cases June 11, 2017 to June 17, 2017 – Jeffrey S. Harris

U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals

District Court properly granted summary judgment against claim the company retaliated against employee for filing lawsuit by reducing her hours, because company reduced her hours before it found out she sued.  Kim v. Coach, Inc., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 10717 (9th Cir. June 16, 2017).

District Court properly granted summary judgment under Title VII because employees who allegedly harassed her were not supervisors able to take tangible employment actions against her, even though they gave her instructions about work, gave her copies of company policies and talked to her about them and she understood she needed to follow their instructions.  Employee did not claim standard for finding supervisor was different under Hawaii law   Kim v. Coach, Inc., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 10714 (9th Cir. June 16, 2017).

Court of Appeals enforced NLRB’s order employer violated Section 8(a)(3) of the NLRA.  Substantial evidence supported the conclusions an employees’ protected activity was a substantial or motivating factor in the employer’s failure to recall them and the employer failed to demonstrate it would have taken the same action regardless of the protected activity; given the administrative law judge’s  credibility determinations, temporal sequence of events, conduct of the parties and corroborating testimony.  Space Needle, LLC v. NLRB, 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 10505 (9th Cir. June 13, 2017).

District Court properly granted summary against Title VII disparate treatment claim, because employee presented no evidence discriminatory intent motivated any person who influenced, affected or was involved in adverse decision intent and no evidence company treated similarly situated individuals outside his protected class more favorably.  Employer offered legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons for its actions and employee's evidence created no genuine issue whether the reasons were pretext.  Habib v. Matson Navigation Co., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 10496 (9th Cir. June 13, 2017).

Hawaii Supreme Court

It was unconscionable to require a terminated schoolteacher to pay, up-front, a $10,200 deposit amounting to one-quarter to one-third of her former $35,000 to $45,000 annual salary to access the arbitral forum.  Gabriel v. Island Pac. Acad., Inc., 2017 Haw. LEXIS 109 (June 13, 2017).

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