Hawaii Employment Law Decisions from June 28 to July 4 - Jeffrey S. Harris

A district court properly granted summary judgment against a former employee's claim that the employer violated Section 510 of ERISA by discharging her for the purpose of interfering with her benefits under a plan, because even though she established a prima facie case by showing her discharge occurred 18 months before she would have been entitled to additional benefits under the plan, the employer articulated a legitimate, non discriminatory reason for termination her (her violation of the company's confidentiality policy by accessing her then-husband's medical records 12 times and another person's records more than once) and she did not present any evidence that the reason was a pretext for a discriminatory motive.  Cole v. The Permanente Med. Grp., 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 11346 (9th Cir. July 1, 2015).

A district court properly granted summary judgment against a former employee's retaliation and hostile work environment claims, because the employ failed to raise a genuine dispute of material fact that the employer took any adverse action against her for engaging in protected conduct or that she was subjected to sufficiently severe or pervasive conduct.  Garner v. Prtitzker, 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 11357 (9th Cir. July 1, 2015).

A district court granted summary judgment against an employee's hostile work environment claim, because she could not link any of a manager's conduct to gender based animus and her conflict with him was not sufficiently severe or pervasive.  The district court granted summary judgment against the employee's disparate treatment claim, because she could not show that she and a manager were similarly situated or that the employer treated the manager more favorably, and she did not show that the employer's legitimate reasons for terminating her (no longer a good fit, recurring communication problems behavior and disinclination to learn from others) were pretextual.  The district court granted summary judgment against the employees retaliation claim because her termination occurred more than four months after her protected activity.  Kulukulualani v. Tori Richard, Ltd., 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 85093 (D. Haw. June 30, 2015)

The circuit court improperly vacated an arbitrator' award granting three officers promotions and back pay, because the award did not exceed the arbitrator's authority under the collective bargaining agreement or conflict with public policy. State of Haw. Org. of Police Officers and Cty. of Kauai, 2015 Haw. LEXIS 143 (June 29, 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 that 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.