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Court Cases in the News

A state-by-state review of court cases pertaining to workplace rights.

Select your state from the map below or from this list. (If your state does not have any court cases, then the page will not scroll down when you click on the state.)

map of us states Washington Oregon Idaho Montana North Dakota Nevada Utah Arizona California New Mexico Colorado Wyoming South Dakota Nebraska Kansas Texas Oklahoma Louisiana Mississippi Arkansas Alabama Tennessee Missouri Iowa Minnesota Wisconsin Michigan Illinois Indiana Florida Georgia South Carolina North Carolina Virginia Kentucky Ohio West Virginia Pennsylvania New York Vermont Massachusetts Rhode Island Connecticut New Jersey Delaware Maryland Maine New Hampshire District of Columbia Alaska Hawaii


Judge removed from discrimination case

Source: Henry Weinstein, Los Angeles Times
Date: January 5, 2007

A federal appeals court in San Francisco has removed veteran Los Angeles federal Judge Manuel Real from the case of a Pearl Harbor shipyard supervisor of partial Hawaiian descent who contends that he was illegally passed over for promotion because the U.S. Navy favored Caucasians. The three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said it was troubled by Real's "apparent unwillingness" to follow an earlier ruling ordering him to admit relevant statistical evidence and testimony into the retrial of Ronald L. Obrey Jr.'s bias claims. The 9th Circuit's action to take the Obrey case away from Real is unusual but not unprecedented.

Commission won't change harassment rules

Source: Pacific Business News
Date: November 2, 2006

The Hawaii Civil Rights Commission has decided not to change the state's rules governing harassment in the workplace. The unanimous vote was in response to a petition filed by the Hawaii Employers Council in April, asking the commission to delete language in state administrative rules that currently hold employers strictly liable for supervisor harassment based on sex or ancestry. [This] decision could be seen as a victory for employees, plaintiff attorneys and anti-harassment advocates who argued the rules should stay as they are because they force employers to take the issue seriously for fear of getting sued.

Decision on harassment rules delayed

Source: Pacific Business News
Date: October 19, 2006

The Hawaii Civil Rights Commission's four-member board has postponed any decision on whether to change the state's harassment rules. The commissioners have to decide whether or not to approve a petition filed by the Hawaii Employers Council. The council wants the commission to delete language in state administrative rules that hold employers strictly liable for supervisor harassment based on sex or ancestry. Employers want the rules to be "loosened" because currently they're held liable if their supervisors harass, even if they didn't know about the incident and have anti-harassment policies in place.

City settles pay suit for $30 million

Source: Peter Boylan, Honolulu Advertiser
Date: March 5, 2006

The city has tentatively settled a class-action lawsuit alleging more than 2,000 Honolulu police officers and firefighters were not properly paid over a three-year period, according to the mayor's office. The amount of the settlement is $30 million. Filed on behalf of more than 1,500 officers under the Fair Labor Standards Act, the lawsuit alleges that from 1999 to 2002, Honolulu didn't pay officers for time they spent on activities such as work-related travel, command briefings before and after their shifts, missed meal breaks, and for cleaning and maintaining vehicles. The lawsuit also alleges that officials improperly calculated overtime, that employees were not compensated for all work associated with the job, and that the city's compensation-time policies violate the FLSA.

Discrimination suit ordered back to Circuit Court for trial

Source: Curtis Lum, Honolulu Advertiser
Date: January 27, 2006

The Hawai'i Supreme Court has ordered that a discrimination lawsuit be sent back to Circuit Court for a new trial in a ruling that puts in question the authority of a state commission that investigates complaints of discriminatory practices. In the ruling, the justices said that [the employer's] constitutional right to have a jury determine damages was violated by the lower court. The Supreme Court said an employer who appeals a final order by the commission is entitled to a jury trial. In a dissenting opinion, Justice Simeon Acoba said, "It makes it pointless to do a hearing before the Civil Rights Commission. No employee would ever do that because if you win you have to start all over. But if you lose, you can't do that."

Court upholds firing for workplace violence joke

Source: Harold Nedd, Pacific Business News, MSNBC.com
Date: October 16, 2005

A worker fired for joking about workplace violence isn't entitled to unemployment benefits under state law, the Hawaii Supreme Court has ruled. State law allows the Department of Labor to deny jobless benefits to a worker fired for misconduct. The 3-2 ruling by the Supreme Court found that "misconduct" can include joking that clashes with company policy designed to protect workers from violence in the workplace. Susan C. Medeiros was fired after she jokingly placed her hands around the throat of a co-worker and shook her. The Supreme Court found that because her employer had a zero-tolerance policy against violence in the workplace, and Medeiros knew about it, she should not have even joked about assaulting a worker.

Company Settles Maui Racial Bias Suit

Source: Honululu Star Bulletin
Date: December 13, 2003

United Parcel Service has agreed to pay $150,000 in a settlement of a racial bias lawsuit brought by a former Maui resident. Carlos Harris, an African American, alleged he was fired by UPS for swearing on the job on Maui in 1998 while other drivers engaging in similar conduct were disciplined less harshly. The two-year consent decree also requires UPS to take steps to prevent future discrimination, including conducting periodic anti-discrimination training for all of its Hawaii employees.

Ex-Screeners' Suit Alleges Discrimination at Maui Airport

Source: Honolulu Advertiser
Date: October 21, 2003

Five former Maui airport security screeners who worked for the federal Transportation Security Administration are suing the agency and TSA officials in Hawai'i, claiming they were subjected to race and age discrimination.

ACLU Pursuing Ban on Transgender Discrimination

Source: David Waite, Honolulu Advertiser
Date: August 15, 2003

The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a brief with the Hawai'i Supreme Court, asking it to take notice of decisions rendered in state and federal courts elsewhere that "gender identity" discrimination has been found to be illegal. "Discriminating against someone for failing to conform to stereotypes about how a man or woman should look or act is sex discrimination under the law," said Ken Choe, a staff attorney with the ACLU's Lesbian and Gay Rights Project, which submitted a friend-of-the-court brief in a Hawai'i case yesterday. The case involves a decision by the Hawai'i Civil Rights Commission that "transgender" people are covered by prohibitions against sex discrimination. Several complaints were filed against RGIS Inventory Specialist, a company that provides inventory services to retailers, the ACLU said.

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