Hawaii Employment Law Decisions from December 13, 2015 to December 19, 2015 – Jeffrey S. Harris

District court properly granted summary judgment against employee's discrimination and retaliation claims, because employee did not suffer adverse employment action or show the employer's legitimate reasons for its actions were pretextual.   Blount v. Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, LLC, 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 22119 (9th Cir. Dec. 18, 2015).

District court improperly granted summary judgment against employee's wrongful discharge claim, because employee testified the employer disparately enforced its policy against drinking alcohol with subordinates, the employer did not comply with an exception from Montana law against use of a lawful product off duty and the store manager told the employee she and other employees who were older or had worked for a long time would be squeezed out.  Pedersen v. The TJX Companies, Inc. dba TJ Maxx, 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 22122 (9th Cir. Dec. 18, 2015).

District court improperly granted summary judgment against claim employer retaliated against employees speaking out about time sheet fraud by denying promotions.  Although supervisors who warned them against speaking out were not directly involved in adverse actions, there was evidence of a workplace driven by personal relationships and favoritism and evidence the reasons for the promotion denials were pretextual, including the employees' seniority, one of the decision-makers denial of a routine scheduling accommodation and the other decision-makers refusal to talk to one of the employees about her examination results.  Hernandez v. City of San Jose, 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 21848 (9th Cir. Dec. 16, 2015).

Hawaii Supreme Court vacated Labor and Industrial Relations Board's decision work accident did not aggravate employee's shoulder injury.  Employer and insurer did not present sufficiently specific evidence to overcome presumption that the accident aggravated the prior injury, because the physicians they relied on only said that the accident did not aggravate the injury, not that it could not have; and they did not explain why the employee had no symptoms before the accident but then started them shortly afterwards.  Panoke v. Reef Development of Hawaii, Inc., 2015 Haw. LEXIS 333 (Dec. 14, 2015).

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.