Hawaii Employment Law Decisions from December 20, 2015 to December 26, 2015 – Jeffrey S. Harris

U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals

District court properly granted summary judgment against federal discrimination claim, because employee did not allege adverse actions or failed to rebut the employer's legitimate non-discriminatory reasons for its actions or present any other direct or circumstantial evidence that discrimination more likely motivated  the employer's actions.  District court properly granted summary judgment against retaliation claim, because some actions employee alleged were not adverse and he did not raise genuine issues of fact whether there was a connection between his protected activity and the actions that were adverse.  Lemly v. Graham County, 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 22603 (9th Cir. Dec. 24, 2015).

District court properly granted summary judgment against federal gender and national origin discrimination claim, because former employee offered no evidence that employer treated similarly situated individuals outside of her classification more favorably than her.  Employee showed no nexus between discriminatory comments and any employment action.  District court properly granted summary judgment against hostile work environment claim, because employee did not present evidence showing that a reasonable Caucasian correction officer would find the conduct offensive.  District court properly granted summary judgment against retaliation claim, because adverse actions either occurred prior to employee's protected activity and she presented no evidence that the employer's legitimate reasons for taking adverse action were a pretext for retaliation.  Miller v. Graham County, 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 22605 (9th Cir. Dec. 24, 2015).

U.S. District Court, District of Hawaii

District court denied motion for summary judgment against FMLA interference claim, because former employee created material issues of fact by showing he requested leave to have cataract surgery when his vision issues prevented him from performing some job functions, he could not perform his essential job functions after his surgery and he was terminated while he was entitled to leave due to his incapacity.  District court denied motion for summary judgment against claim under state whistleblower act, because employer stated it terminated the employee for damaging a vehicle and not taking requested drug and alcohol screening three months after he complained about workplace safety and because there were disputed issues of material fact whether he caused any damage and should have taken the screening.  Goodman v. DTG Operation, Inc., 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 171597 (D. Haw. Dec. 23, 2015).

District court granted summary judgment against federal and state disability discrimination claim, because former night security guard's episodes of exhaustion caused by working nights was not a disability, his failing to stay awake while on duty prevented him from qualifying for the position, his failing to qualify excused the employer from the interactive process, falling asleep on the job and allowing persons on campus without verifying their identities and previously falsifying a security log were legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons for discharge which he did not show were pretextual.  District court granted summary judgment against federal retaliation claim because simply requesting a schedule change was not protected conduct, 29 months passed between the request and termination and there were legitimate, non-discriminatory, non-pretextual reasons.  Tsuji v. Kamehameha Schools, 2015 U.S. Dist LEXIS 171815 (D. Haw. Dec. 22, 2015).

Hawaii Intermediate Court of Appeals

Customer failed to show hotel not disclosing its reclassifying the "management share" of service charges to pay for its employee's wages in violation of HRS § 481B-14 caused him any injury, such as poor quality service or any other adverse effect.  Because HRS § 481B-14 did not specify the form of the disclosure, the hotels failure to make the disclosure in the wedding reception agreement did not void the agreement.  Kawakami v. Kahala Hotel Investors, LLC, 2015 Haw. App. LEXIS 615 (Int. Ct. App. Dec. 23, 2015).

Contract licensing board did not err by concluding to qualify as "incidental and supplemental" work a specialty contractor may perform outside of its license, the work must represent less than 50% of the project (as measured in relation to the project's total cost or extent), and must be subordinate to, directly related to, and necessary for the completion of the work of greater importance that is within the licensee's license.  District Council 50 of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades v. Awakuni, 2015 Haw. App. LEXIS 605 (Int. Ct. App. Dec. 21, 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.