Hawaii Employment Law Decisions from January 17, 2016 to January 23, 2016 – Jeffrey S. Harris

U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals

District court properly granted summary judgment against federal discrimination claim, because former employee failed to raise genuine issues of fact whether the employer subjected him to adverse employment action or more favorably treated similarly situated individuals outside his protected classification.  District court properly granted summary judgment against retaliation claim, because former employee failed to raise genuine issues of fact whether the employer subjected him to adverse employment action or there was a causal relationship between his EEOC complaints and any such actions.  District court properly granted summary judgment against harassment claim, because former employee failed to raise a genuine issue of fact whether the alleged conduct altered his conditions of employment or created an abusive work environment.  Domingo v. Brennan, 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 1588 (9th Cir. Jan. 20, 2016).

Although district court properly dismissed pro se plaintiff's employment discrimination claim, plaintiff was entitled to notice of the defects in his complaint and the chance to amend it.  Clay v. Pacific Bell Telephone Co., Inc., 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 1577 (9th Cir. Jan. 20, 2016).

District court properly granted summary judgment against federal discrimination claim, because former employee failed to raise genuine issues of material fact whether he performed according to the employer's legitimate expectations, the employer treated similarly situated individuals more favorably, or employer's legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons for terminating him were pretextual.  District court properly granted summary judgment against federal discrimination claim, because former employee failed to raise genuine issues of material fact whether he was subject to sufficiently severe or pervasive conduct.  Belgrove v. North Slope Borough Power, Light and Public Works, 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 1606 (9th Cir. Jan. 20, 2016).

District court improperly granted summary judgment against federal discrimination claim, because former employee raised genuine issues of fact whether the employer's reasons for terminating her were a pretext for discrimination.  She offered evidence she was the only auditor-appraiser to receive a mid probationary performance review, the only one disciplined in the first six months of the year for failing to complete audits on a "flow basis", over 70% of her coworkers, her disciplining supervisors, and all but one of the seven auditor-appraisers hired during her tenure were Asian American while she was Mexican-American and at least two Asian-American auditors failed to timely complete their audits but were not disciplined.  Cortes v. County of Santa Clara, 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 1110 (9th Cir. Jan. 20, 2016).

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.