Hawaii Employment Law Decisions April 30, 2017 to May 6, 2017 – Jeffrey S. Harris

U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals

District Court properly granted summary judgment against failure to provide reasonable accommodation claim, because employee’s requested accommodation of being restricted from visual or verbal contact with her direct supervisor was effectively a request for a new supervisor and per se unreasonable.  Her alternative request for reassignment in conflict with her collective bargaining agreement was also unreasonable.  District Court properly granted summary judgment against failure to engage in interactive process claim, because employer refused to respond to repeated attempts to obtain information regarding her disabilities and limitation.  Roberts v. Permanente Med. Grp., Inc., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 7948 (9th Cir. May 4, 2017).

District Court properly granted summary judgment against discriminatory discharge claim.  Employee failed to establish prima facie case, because he failed to provide minimal evidence he was performing his job satisfactorily, given evidence he committed multiple switching errors that caused significant power outages, and he failed to identify a similarly situated non-African American employee treated more favorably.  Ingram v. Pac. Gas & Elec. Co., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 7885 (9th Cir. May 3, 2017).

District Court properly dismissed race discrimination and retaliation claims, because officer failed to plead adverse employment action by alleging mishandling of employment grievances and police board complaint.  District Court properly dismissed hostile work environment claim, because officer failed to allege conduct was sufficiently severe or pervasive.  Morrow v. City of Oakland, 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 7884 (9th Cir. May 3, 2017).

U.S. District Court for District of Hawaii

District Court stayed claim for monetary damages against Hawaii Civil Rights Commission, based on a constitutional challenge to the agency’s (a) rule which prohibits employers from recruiting prospective employees by using the phrase "college student" and (b) alleged practice of unilaterally extending the statutory 180-day deadline within which to issue a reasonable cause finding, without providing notice to the employer.  Constitutional challenge will not be considered until final decision in administrative proceeding and any appeals.  Morning Hill Foods, LLC v. Hoshijo, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXI 66492 (D. Haw. May 2, 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.