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Hawaii Employment Law Decisions from May 24 to May 30 - Jeffrey S. Harris

Because last day of plan's 180 day appeal period ran on a Sunday, a claimant had until the following day to file his appeal. Legras v. Aetna Life Ins. Co., 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 8824 (9th Cir. May 28, 2015).

ERISA plans may require employees to execute releases of claims to qualify for and ultimately receive benefits. A voluntary executive severance plan was an ERISA plan because it involved sufficient ongoing, particularized, administrative and discretionary analysis. ERISA preempted state contract and wage payment law claims based on the plan release that the employee signed and his failure to receive benefits. Edwards v. Lockheed Martin Corp., 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 8840 (9th Cir. May 28, 2015).

A district court properly granted summary judgment against an employee's gender discrimination claims on the ground that she did not show the employer treated a similarly situated employee differently, because the employer received complaints about her conduct with subordinates and the male she compared herself with rejected a proposed separation agreement that she attempted to negotiate. Ray v. United Parcel Serv., 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 8769 (9th Cir. May 27, 2015).

Participants of an employee stock ownership plan stated a claim that fiduciaries of the plan acted imprudently by continuing to provide company common stock as an investment alternative, when they knew or should have known that the stock was being sold at an artificially high price - at least when a court in another action had certified a class claiming that the company materially misrepresented the value of the stock and committed other securities violations. The plan participants stated a claim that the fiduciaries breached their duty of loyalty by failing to provide material information to the participants about the investment in company stock. Harris v. Amgen, Inc., 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 9695 (9th Cir. May 26, 2015).

A plaintiff failed to state a claim that an individual majority owner, CEO and President was the alter ego of a LLC employer. Although the plaintiff alleged facts which if true could show a unity of interest between the individual and LLC (i.e. individual's withdrawal of sums for personal use from the LLC's credit line, shifting of funds to his other companies and allowing his son who was not on payroll to withdraw funds but placing restrictions on managers); the plaintiff did not allege any facts showing that adherence to the separate existence of the LLC would sanction a fraud or promote injustice. The court explained that the plaintiff did not even allege that the LLC was insolvent, that her claims remained against the LLC and that Hawaii courts have been reluctant to disregard the separate entity. The workers compensation statute barred the plaintiff's defamation claim because there was a connection between the alleged injury and incidents of employment. The plaintiff did not allege any special damage resulted from the alleged defamation that was not so connected. Alleged false statements to coworkers and a government agency are not sufficient allegations of publicity to state a claim for false light invasion of privacy. Hillhouse v. Hawaii Behavioral Health, LLC, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 69612 (D Haw. May 29, 2015).

A pro se plaintiff failed to state a plausible basis for his disparate treatment discrimination, retaliation or intentional infliction of emotional distress claims. Jindassa v. Brigham Young University, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 68052 (D. Haw. May 27, 2015).

ERISA preempted a claim by former union officer and mutual aid fund administrator seeking that the union indemnify him against liability for breaching his fiduciary duty for negligently making loans from the fund to a startup company located in Florida and the attorneys fees and costs he incurred to unsuccessfully defend against that liability. Rodrigues v. United Public Workers, 2015 Haw. LEXIS 114 (May 27, 2015).

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 that 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.