Hawaii Employment Law Cases October 1, 2017 to October 7, 2017 – Jeffrey S. Harris

U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals

District Court improperly granted summary judgment against ADA claim.  Employer failed to present evidence it engaged with employee to "discover the precise limitations and the types of accommodations which would be most effective" given her injury, and did not show assigning employee to light duty work, as it had done in the past, would have created an "undue hardship."  District Court properly granted summary judgment against Title VII national origin discrimination claim.  Employee did not show similarly situated employees outside her protected class received more favorable treatment.  No co-worker filed a workers’ compensation claim and worked at another job in potential violation of the employer’s workers’ compensation policies.  District Court properly granted summary judgment against harassment claim, because alleged harassment was not sufficiently severe or pervasive as to "alter the conditions of employment and create an abusive work environment."  Mois v. Wynn Las Vegas LLC, 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 19661 (9th Cir. Oct. 6, 2017).

District Court properly granted summary judgment against federal sexual harassment claim.  Since supervisor who allegedly harassed employee was not involved in decision to transfer her and her new experience was a positive experience, alleged harassment did not culminate in a tangible employment action.  Because employer temporarily transferred employee, met to discuss its zero tolerance policy after she returned, placed alleged harasser on administrative leave when she formally complained, and hired a former EEOC administrative law judge to investigate, the employer exercised reasonable care to prevent and correct promptly any harassment.  By delaying, the employee unreasonably failed to avail herself of available corrective mechanisms.   Employee did not establish a prima facie case of co-worker harassment, because coworker’s distasteful and offensive behavior was almost entirely non-sexual in nature and the only incident that bore sexual overtones was isolated.  Alatorre v. Stackley, 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 19353 (9th Cir. Oct. 4, 2017).

District Court properly granted summary judgment against Title VII discrimination claims arising from events occurring prior to 300 days before employee field charge with the agency and barred by the statute of limitations.  Employee failed to establish prima facie case of discrimination and failed to raise genuine issue of material fact as to whether employer’s legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons for its actions were pretextual.  District Court properly granted summary judgment against Title VII harassment claim, because employee failed to raise a genuine dispute of material fact whether her work environment was objectively hostile or whether the alleged harassment took place because of any of her protected characteristics.  Employee forfeited opportunity to appeal non-dispositive orders by magistrate judge, including discovery orders, because she did not file any objections.  Redwind v. Western Union, LLC, 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 19238 (9th Cir. Oct. 3, 2017).

District Court properly granted summary judgment against Title VII claims.  Employee failed to raise genuine dispute of material fact whether her EEOC charge encompassed her claims or whether she administratively exhausted her claims.  Even assuming employee exhausted her claims, she failed to raise a genuine issue of material fact whether she was subject of harassment, discrimination or retaliation.  District Court properly granted summary judgment against Rehabilitation Act claim, because employee failed to raise genuine dispute of material fact whether employer terminated her because of a disability and whether employer failed to provide reasonable accommodation in response to a proper request.  Matthews v. Shulkin, 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 19244 (9th Cir. Oct. 3, 2017).

District Court properly dismissed Title VII employment discrimination claim.  Applicant failed to allege facts sufficient to show he was qualified for the positions for which he applied, and after employer rejected him the positions remained available and employer continued to review applicants with comparable qualifications.  Gulec v. Boeing Co., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 19218 (9th Cir. Oct. 3, 2017).

U.S. District Court, District of Hawaii

District Court granted summary judgment against Hawaii Whistleblower Act claim.  Employee on personal leave failed to satisfy the “adverse employment action” requirement of the claim.  Authorized representatives of employer did not terminate the employee.  He requested FMLA leave and asked the employer to terminate him so he could collect unemployment benefits.   Henao v. Hilton Grand Vacations Co., LLC, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 166544 (D. Haw. Oct. 6, 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.