Hawaii Employment Law Decisions March 12 to March 18, 2017 – Jeffrey S. Harris

U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals

District Court properly granted summary judgment against ADA claim, because former teacher and his wife failed to raise genuine issue of material fact as to whether they were terminated because of his disability or reasonable accommodation requests.  District Court properly granted summary judgment under Fair Housing Act, because teacher and his wife offered no evidence they were evicted because of his disability rather than him no longer being an employee.  County changing its payment policy to avoid increasing teacher’s income to point where he would lose his disability benefits was an economic consideration that did not constitute disability discrimination.  Barrett v. Clark Cnty. Sch. Dist. No. 161, 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 4802 (9th Cir. March 17, 2017).

District Court properly dismissed discrimination complaint, because former employee did not file charge of discrimination until two years after termination.  Her not knowing about the 300-day deadline, lacking counsel and having her charge initially accepted did not toll the statute of limitations.  Rupam Saluja v. Advance Am. Cash Advance Ctrs. of Nev., Inc., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 4553 (9th Cir. March 15, 2017).

Hawaii, Intermediate Court of Appeals

Workers compensation law did not bar defamation and false light claims based on statements made after employees’ termination.   Circuit Court properly granted summary judgment against defamation and false light claims, because challenged statements were true.  Since employees submitted no evidence firm hired to investigate their misconduct should have realized investigation posed an unreasonable risk of harm to employee through the negligent or reckless conduct of their supervisors or third parties, employees had no negligent investigation claim against the firm.  Nakamoto v. Kawauchi, 2017 Haw. App. LEXIS 104 (Int. Ct. March 14, 2017).

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.