Corporate, Litigation, and Labor & Employment Lawyers

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Hawaii Employment Law Decisions February 21 to February 27 – Jeffrey S. Harris


District court properly granted summary judgment against federal retaliation claim, because former employee failed to raise genuine issues of material fact whether employer took adverse employment actions because she reported another employee showing her a racist video at work, and whether the reasons her employer offered for its actions were pretextual.  Manatt v. State of Nev., 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 338 (9th Cir. Feb. 25, 2016).

The U.S. Dept. of Labor validly issued a rule prohibiting employers from instituting tip pools in which customarily tipped employees (i.e., servers and casino dealers) must share tips with non-customarily tipped employees (i.e., kitchen staff and casino floor supervisors), regardless of whether the employers pay the customarily tipped employees minimum wage or take part of their tips as a credit against the minimum wage.  Or. Rest. and Lodging Ass'n v. Perez, 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 3119 (9th Cir. Feb. 23, 2016).

District court properly granted partial summary judgment against punitive damage claim, because former employee did not offer evidence showing the employer knew it may have been acting in violation of federal discrimination law, the employer's failure to take action to deter harassment after the former employee left did not affect his rights, and the employer's failure to implement its antidiscrimination policies was irrelevant because the former employee did not claim the employer was responsible for anything a supervisor had done.  Christopher v. Spectra Elec. Serv., Inc., 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 3060 (9th Cir. Feb. 22, 2016).

District court properly granted summary judgment against state and federal disability discrimination claims, because former union organizer was not qualified to perform an essential function for her job of working extended hours and six to seven day weeks, regardless of other organizers receiving limited reduced duty or the union leaving her position open pending her return.  District court properly granted summary judgment against retaliation claim, because the union repeatedly forecast intending to terminate organizer's extended leave and temporal proximity was not sufficient evidence under the circumstances.  District court properly granted summary judgment against overtime pay claim, because the organizer was an exempt administrative employee based on her exercised discretion and independent judgment as she traveled and met with prospective union members, assessed individuals for potential unionization and served as a liaison assisting organizing efforts.  Rincon v, Am. Fed'n of State, Cty. and Mun. Employees, 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 2969 (9th Cir. Feb. 19, 2016).


Governor's implementation of statute authorizing transfer of operation and control of Hawaii Health System's Mau Regional System facilities to a private entity did not violate the Contract Clause of the U.S. Constitution,  interfere with collective bargaining agreements between the System and union or conflict with HRS Chapters 76, 89 or 262.  United Pub. Workers, Am. Fed'n of State, Cty. and Mun. Employees, Local 646 AFL-CIO v. Ige,  2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 20688 (D. Haw. Feb. 19, 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.