FAQs about our Labor and Employment Services

Useful labor and employment information for businesses

We have compiled questions about labor and employment law. If you can't find the information you are seeking here, we want to hear from you. Contact Torkildson, Katz, Moore, Hetherington & Harris, Attorneys at Law. We have years of experience handling some of the most complex cases involving unfair labor practices, collective bargaining agreements and many other labor or employment law-related issues in Hawaii.

What are common examples of unfair labor practices?

What qualifies as an unfair labor practice (ULP) can be a subject of debate. But in many cases a plaintiff may argue the labor practice violates the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). Both unions and employers may file ULPs, and we regularly defend ULPs on behalf of employers as well as file ULPs on their behalf against unions. The following are a few examples of allegations a business or union might face:

  • Employers interfering with employee's right to organize or join a union
  • Employers discriminating against employees in order to discourage unionized employees from taking action, including a strike
  • Employers or unions refusing to bargain in good faith
  • Unions threatening employees for crossing an illegal picket line
  • Unions charging excessive membership fees

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What is a collective bargaining agreement?

A collective bargaining agreement (CBA) refers to a legally-binding agreement between an employer and a group of employees concerning working conditions, often for a specified period of time. Often, a union will represent employees when negotiating a CBA with an employer.  A CBA may involve the following issues:

  • Hourly wages
  • Hours of work
  • Working conditions
  • Grievance procedures
  • Annual raises

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What is the Hawaii Labor Relations Board?

The Hawaii Labor Relations Board (HLRB) is a state-governed board created to resolve disputes between employers and employees. The HLRB conducts hearings to rule on complaints filed by employees or employers. Cases often involve "an employer or union's failure to bargain in good faith," according to the HLRB's website. The Board also rules on whether an employer or a union interfered with an employee's right to participate in bargaining activities and whether a union failed to represent employees who filed a grievance. In addition, the HLRB often conducts union elections to verify that the elections are fair and accurate.

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What is the Taft-Hartley Act?

Passed in 1947, the Taft-Hartley Act (also known as the Labor Management Relations Act) limits labor unions' ability to strike and imposes other sanctions to level the playing field between employers and unions primarily during contract negotiations and to avoid prolonged disputes between both sides.

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What is employment compliance?

Employers must comply with a vast array of state and federal laws and regulations. Specific tasks employers must undertake (and which our attorneys are skilled at handling) include but are not limited to the following:

  • Creating an employee handbook
  • Training employees about policies governing harassment and discrimination
  • Terminating or hiring employees
  • Creating non-compete agreements for employees

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What is arbitration?

Arbitration is a term used to describe a form of dispute resolution. In particular, a neutral arbitrator often rules on the dispute. Both sides will usually agree before negotiating with an arbitrator if the arbitration decision will be binding or non-binding. If both sides agree beforehand to binding arbitration, the arbitrator's decision is considered legally binding in Hawaii. However, the rules vary from state to state.

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What is a non-compete agreement?

A non-compete agreement or non-compete clause (NCC) refers to a legally-binding agreement in which an employee agrees not to perform similar work for another company in competition with the employee's employer. We help employers create and analyze NCCs.

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What is unemployment insurance?

Unemployment insurance is a joint state-federal program that provides financial compensation to unemployed workers. In Hawaii, this program is financed by employers. Employees eligible to receive unemployment compensation can do so for up to 26 weeks during a 52-week period, according to Hawaii's unemployment insurance guidelines. Many other rules and regulations exist. Schedule a consultation with us to ensure your company complies with Hawaii's unemployment insurance guidelines.

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How can a company protect itself against a whistleblower claims?

Businesses accused of violating the Whistleblower Protection Act can face stiff penalties if an employee mounts a successful whistleblower claim. Even if the case gets dismissed, the company may be forced to fight a costly battle responding to discovery requests and filing motions. However, there are ways a company can successfully counteract such claims. One way involves strengthening the company's compliance policies to prevent whistleblower cases from occurring in the first place. Our attorneys help clients develop programs to create a company-wide culture of compliance.

By taking a proactive approach, your company can conduct its own internal investigation if an allegation of wrongdoing is raised. If your company has already been accused of wrongdoing by a whistleblower, contact us. We can assist with your internal investigation. Being proactive is often the best approach, rather than waiting to respond to a lawsuit. If the matter is not resolved, we are prepared to guide you through court proceedings.

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