Hawaii Employment Law Decisions November 19, 2017 to November 25, 2017 – Jeffrey S. Harris and Rachel K.H. Miyashiro

U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals

Gross income includes settlement payments not based on physical injury or physical sickness.  Tax Court properly concluded the settlement was not excludable from taxpayers’ gross income because neither the settlement agreement nor the facts and circumstances of the case demonstrated that the settlement was based on taxpayer’s physical injury or physical sickness, or her loss of consortium arising from her husband’s physical injury or physical sickness.  Tax Court did not clearly err in concluding the taxpayers failed to produce sufficient evidence they acted with reasonable cause and in good faith, and properly found that the accuracy-related penalty was appropriate for their understated taxes.  Dulanto v. Comm’r, 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 23472 (9th Cir. Nov. 20, 2017).

Three pro se plaintiffs’ claims fail.  District Court properly granted summary judgment against race and color discrimination claims because former employee failed to raise a genuine dispute of material fact whether he was performing according to his employer’s legitimate expectations, or whether employer treated him less favorably than similarly situated employees not of his protected class.  District Court properly granted summary judgment on Title VII harassment claim because former employee failed to raise a triable dispute whether defendants were aware of the alleged harassing conduct prior to his termination.  District Court properly granted summary judgment on retaliation claims because employee failed to raise a triable dispute whether he engaged in protected activity prior to his termination.  District Court also properly granted summary judgment on state law whistleblowing claim because former employee failed to raise a triable dispute whether he was engaged in conduct protected by the state’s whistleblowing statute during the relevant period.  Brown v. DCK Worldwide, LLC, 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 23458 (9th Cir. Nov. 20, 2017).

District Court properly granted summary judgment on racial discrimination and retaliation claims because former employee failed to raise a genuine dispute of material fact whether his employer’s legitimate, non-discriminatory and non-retaliatory reasons for its actions were pretextual.  District Court properly granted summary judgment on hostile work environment claim because former employee failed to raise a genuine dispute of material fact whether employer subjected him to sufficiently severe or pervasive conduct.  District Court properly granted summary judgment on intentional infliction of emotional distress claim because former employee failed to raise genuine dispute of material fact whether employer engaged in extreme and outrageous conduct or whether former employee suffered severe or extreme emotional distress.  Iacob v. Las Vegas Metro. Police Dep’t, 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 23477 (9th Cir. Nov. 20, 2017).

District Court properly granted summary judgment on race discrimination claim because former employee failed to raise a genuine dispute of material fact whether she was performing according to her employer’s expectations and that employer treated similarly situated employees outside her protected class more favorably, or whether her employer’s legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons for terminating her employment were pretextual.  To the extent former employee alleged a hostile work environment claim, summary judgment was proper because she failed to raise a genuine dispute of material fact whether she was subjected to conduct that was severe or pervasive enough to alter the conditions of her employment.  District Court properly granted summary judgment on disability discrimination claim because former employee failed to raise a genuine dispute of material fact whether she had a disability.  McDaniel v. Mattis, 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 23430 (9th Cir. Nov. 20, 2017).

Note: We analyze cases to learn rules courts will follow or disappoint us if they do not.  Rules courts follow allow us to behave and provide explanations they accept.  Competent advocates may limit the rules to the facts of the case that discuss them, or expand the rules by showing differences in other cases are irrelevant.