Workplace Discrimination in Hawaii
Discrimination is an all-too-familiar scenario for many in the workplace. Likewise, it is also the most common type of workplace lawsuit that workers file. An experienced Hawaii workplace discrimination attorney can help. Find out how.
What Is Workplace Discrimination?
Discrimination in the workplace deals with unfair treatment. These laws find their basis on factors such as race, gender, sexual orientation, physical disability, physical qualities, or age. Workplace discrimination can occur between employees or between employers and existing or prospective employees.
Hawaii Labor laws make some types of workplace discrimination illegal. If illegal discrimination occurs, workers may be able to file a workplace discrimination lawsuit. A worker does not need to current ly have employment from a company to face qualifying discrimination. For instance, the company chose not to hire someone. If it’s because of a qualifying characteristic, the individual may become entitled to a claim.
Here are some of the most common types of discrimination that occur in the Hawaiiwork environment:
- Choosing not to hire someone because of their disability
- Choosing not to promote someone because of their race
- Excluding someone from a project because management says they’re too old
- Making misogynistic comments about women
- Deliberately paying men more than women because the boss values their work more
Should You File a Complaint With the HR Department or the EEOC?
Most Hawaii companies have a human resources department and discrimination in the workplace falls within their portfolio. For that reason, raising concerns with the appropriate HR representative may include filing a written report, a possible sit-down interview, and an investigation.
Sometimes a company does not have a human resources department and there are no policies in place. To resolve the issue, you might take your concerns directly to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. They can assist you in investigating the claim and possibly filing a lawsuit.
Hawaii employees can file a complaint with the Honolulu Office of the EEOC. The deadline for filing is 180 or 300 days, depending on the type of discrimination and whether state laws also apply. Once you submit a complaint, the EEOC will conduct an investigation of your allegations. If they find evidence of discrimination, they will typically attempt to resolve the situation through a settlement. However, they also have the authority to initiate litigation if necessary.
What Laws Protect Against Discrimination in the Workplace?
There are federal workplace discrimination laws that help to protect employees. On a federal level, Hawaii employees have protections from discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. However, many states have even stronger laws that offer additional protection.
Let’s take an example. California became the first state where ethnic hair and the right to wear it naturally became a right. In other states, employers may discriminate against natural hair because of racial discrimination.
According to the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission, the Constitution of Hawaii prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, religion, sex, or ancestry. Hawaii has shown a strong commitment to protecting its citizens from discrimination. Through both legislation and common law, Hawaii’s protected classes have been expanded and defined to also include age, marital status, pregnancy, and disability, among others. In addition, 2020 legislation increases protections relating to past criminal convictions and sexual harassment.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
This specifically prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of race, religion, sex, color, or national origin. It typically applies to organizations with 15 or more employees. It also applies to schools (both public and private) and labor organizations. The EEOC’s primary responsibility is enforcing this law.
Hawaii’s Civil Rights Statutes create a mechanism for enforcing anti-discrimination laws in the state. Furthermore, the statute expands on the 4 protected classes in the state constitution. The statute specifies race, color, religion, age, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, ancestry, and disability.
Other Notable Applicable Federal Discrimination Laws
- Equal Pay Act (EPA) – Deals with equal pay act for men and women
- Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) – Protects workers aged 40 and over
- Americans with Disabilities Act – Protects employees with physical disabilities
Examples of State Workplace Discrimination Laws
- Hawaii: Employment Practices Act – Prevents discrimination in hiring and employment. It includes discrimination on the basis of reproductive health decisions, domestic and sexual assault victim status, and arrest or court records.
- California: The CROWN Act – Bans employers from discriminating against ethnic hair.
- New York: Human Rights Law – Prohibits discrimination. It includes protections for ethnic hair, sexual orientation, and gender identity as protected characteristics
- Washington: Washington State Law Against Discrimination – Makes discrimination illegal, including discrimination against people with disabilities who rely on service animals
What Is the Workplace Discrimination Process Like?
Filing a claim for workplace discrimination in Hawaii can be a tricky process given the number of potential laws in play. This is especially the case when the characteristics of the case under protections only qualify under state law. The EEOC enforces federal workplace discrimination laws. In some cases, individual state labor departments handle the claims that only qualify under state law.
Filing a Claim
When it comes to federal claims, workers have about 180 days to file, to remain within the statute of limitations. Time is of the essence with discrimination claims. It’s a good idea to hire a discrimination lawyer to help from the beginning.
Hawaii Claimants also need to provide some basic information with their claim. Depending on the agency, the employer’s name, the name(s) of involved parties, and a description of the incident. It will also include the contact information for everyone involved.
Once the investigation has begun, the agency may request more information. They generally give you ample time and opportunity to produce said information if this happens.
Investigating the Claim
The investigation may involve interviewing the Hawaii employee, employer, other employees at the same place of business. However, it may also include anyone else who may have relevant information. The agency determines that the claim is valid and discrimination did, in fact, take place. The next step is generally to work for settlements or mediation. For this reason, both parties have incentive to work out a compromise.
It may become necessary to file a lawsuit with the appropriate court. This is especially true if the parties cannot reach a settlement on the employee’s behalf. If this is the case, an attorney can issue a “Right To Sue” letter. This letter gives the employee facing discrimianation the right to sue on their own accord.
Under Hawaii laws, either party can judicially appeal the findings of the Civil Rights Commission. The appealing party must file in circuit court within 30 days of the Commission’s final order. The court will handle the case de novo, meaning from the beginning, rather than as an appellate process. They will review all facts and evidence, along with the procedures of the Commission.
Work With an Experienced Workplace Discrimination Lawyer in Hawaii
Consider hiring a lawyer who specializes in discrimination in Hawaii as soon as the incident takes place. Experts often recommend that you resolve the issue internally through the proper HR channels. On the other hand, many employers mishandle these cases.
If you are considering a lawsuit, an attorney becomes even more necessary. Hawaii discrimination attorneys can help you with the paperwork, prepare you for depositions, and find corroborating witnesses to support your claim.
If the court rules in your favor, you might become entitled to several different compensatory benefits:
- Back pay
- Front pay
- Reasonable accommodations
- Payment of attorneys’ fees, court costs, and expert witness fees
Are you ready to find out if you are eligible for these benefits in Hawaii? Start with a case review. We can even help you connect with an attorney across Hawaii state lines.
Submit a request online or call us today at (866) 345-6784 to get in touch with an experienced lawyer in your area!