Hawaii Employment Law Decisions from January 24, 2016 to January 30, 2016 – Jeffrey S. Harris

U.S. District Court, District of Hawaii

District court granted summary judgment against federal disability discrimination and state whistleblower act claims, because former employee admitted he had no impairment that substantially limited a major life activity and the employer did not fire him, wrongfully transfer him or subject him to any other adverse employment action.  Whitaker v. Blackstone Consulting, Inc., 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 10067 (D. Haw. Jan. 28, 2016).

District Court granted summary judgment against state and federal gender and sexual orientation discrimination and hostile work environment claims, because former employee did not initiate administrative complaints until over four years after he removed himself from the workplace and the alleged discriminatory acts occurred.  Although his alleged constructive discharge occurred within the limitations period, nothing remotely intolerable occurred for over three and a half years before his resignation.  Chung v. City and County of Honolulu, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 9391 (D. Haw. Jan. 27, 2016).

Former African American/Ethiopian employee sufficiently stated a federal unequal pay and discipline claims, by alleging the employer paid his female Caucasian co-worker with lower education, lower seniority, less responsibilities and less experience $15,000 more than him and did not discipline her for conduct as serious as the conduct for which he received discipline.  Employee sufficiently stated federal retaliation claim, by alleging the employer took adverse actions against him after he filed a charge of discrimination.  Jinadasa v. Brigham Young University, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 8019 (D. Haw. Jan. 25, 2016)

District court granted employer summary judgment against negligent supervision and negligent retention claims, because customer raised no genuine issue of material fact whether the employer should have known the employee would make discriminatory Facebook posts about the customer.  District court granted employer summary judgment against negligent training claim, because customer did not raise genuine issue of material fact whether a particular job task of the employee posed a foreseeable risk of harm if performed without adequate training, like a security guard apprehending shoplifters or a school principal handling allegations of sexual abuse by teachers, and the supervisor previously told the employee not to post anything related to the company.  Howard v. The Hertz Corp., 2016 U.S. Dis. LEXIS 8439 (D. Haw. Jan. 25, 2016).

Hawaii Intermediate Court of Appeals

Service providers who contracted with the Department of Health and Human Services to provide home and community based services to disabled adults under the Social Security Act did not have to provide workers compensation coverage for subcontractors they hired to provide those services directly to the disabled persons, because the domestic exemption provided by the statute covered them.  Home & Community Services of Hawaii, Inc. v Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, 2016 Haw. App. LEXIS 34 (Int. Ct. App. Jan. 28, 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.