Hawaii Employment Law Decisions Sept. 25, 2016 to Oct. 15, 2016 – Jeffrey S. Harris

Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals

USEERA does not prohibit compelled arbitration of claims arising under the statute's terms.  Ziober v. BLB Res., Inc., 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 18516 (9th Cir. Oct. 14, 2016).

Where seaman is asked to disclose pertinent information during pre-hiring medical examination or interview and intentionally conceals or misrepresents material facts, he is not entitled to award of maintenance and cure where the company would have conducted further inquiry and may not have hired him had he disclosed his condition.  Coastal Vills. Pollock, LLC v. Naufahu, 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 18194 (9th Cir. Oct. 6, 2016).

District Court properly granted summary judgment against Title VII discrimination claim, because employee failed to raise dispute of material fact as to whether he was subjected to an adverse employment action.  Court properly granted summary judgment against Title VII harassment claim, because employee failed to raise dispute of material fact as to whether any harassment was sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the terms of his employment and create a hostile working environment.  The court properly granted summary judgment against Title VII retaliation claim, because employee failed to raise dispute of material fact as to whether there was a causal link between adverse action and any protected conduct.  Jones v. Las Vegas Valley Water Dist., 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 18089 (9th Cir. Sept. 27, 2016).

District court properly concluded judgment approving employer's termination of long term disability benefit for failure to document continued treatment barred employee's later lawsuit claiming employer terminated benefits in retaliation for lawsuit under the doctrine of res judicata.  Employee presented substantially same evidence in both suits and they involved the same right to receive benefit.  Employee was able to offer the alleged lack of need for documentation and alleged retaliatory motive in the first lawsuit.  ERISA preempted employee's claim for intentional infliction of emotion distress based on the company's termination of benefits.  Johnson v. Lucent Techs., Inc., 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 17553 (9th Cir. Sept, 27, 2016).

U.S. District Court for District of Hawaii

District Court reduced the 'lodestar' fee award amount by 50% to account for the limited success achieved in the action, after making various time deductions and adjusting plaintiff attorneys' hourly rates.  Pelayo v. Platinum Limousine Servs., Inc., 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 132719 (D. Haw. Sept. 27, 2016).

Hawaii Intermediate Court of Appeals

Circuit court erred by vacating part of arbitration award interpreting collective bargaining agreement to allow interest on back pay against State; neither sovereign immunity nor statutory prohibition against award of pre-judgment interest against State were sufficient public policy to support vacating the award.  In the matter of the Arbitration between Hawaii State Teachers Ass'n and State of Hawaii Dept. of Educ., 2016 Haw. App. Lexis 436 (Sept. 30, 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.