Hawaii Employment Law Decisions April 16 to April 22, 2017 – Jeffrey S. Harris

U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals

District Court properly granted summary judgement against discrimination and retaliation claims, because former employee failed to raise a genuine dispute of material fact as to whether employer’s legitimate, non-discriminatory and non-retaliatory reasons for its actions were pretextual.  Starks v. Parball Corp., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 7043 (9th Cir. April 21, 2017).

District Court properly granted summary judgment against racial discrimination claim because employee failed to raise a genuine dispute of material fact as to whether similarly situated employees outside his protected class were treated more favorably, or whether his employer’s legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons for its actions were pretextual.  District Court properly granted summary judgment on hostile work environment claim because employee failed to raise a genuine dispute of material fact as to whether employer’s alleged conduct was severe or pervasive enough to alter conditions of his employment   District Court properly granted summary judgment on defamation claim because employer established the alleged defamatory statement was a privileged intra-corporate communication.  Richardson v. Mancino, 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 7051 (9th Cir April 21, 2017).

U.S. District Court, District of Hawaii

District Court denied partial summary judgment two-year statute of limitations applied to FLSA claim because Secretary of Labor showed employer knew of overtime requirements and paid employees according to inaccurate time records undercounting the number of hours employees worked.  District Court granted partial summary judgment Secretary not entitled to equitable tolling because Secretary was not diligent and did not explain how employer wrongfully prevented him from discovering violations and filing complaint.  District Court granted summary judgment employees were exempt from overtime as executives, because Secretary did not dispute they met the duties test and offered no evidence to dispute employer paid them a predetermined weekly amount despite recording their hours or subjected them to deductions. Hugler v. Kazu Constr., LLC, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 58130 (D. Haw. April 17, 2017).

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