Wrongful Termination in Hawaii

What Is Wrongful Termination?

While an employer does have discretion over the hiring and firing of employees, there are certain circumstances where a worker can file for wrongful termination. Termination becomes wrongful when it violates Hawaii law, federal law, or an employment agreement. A dedicated wrongful termination lawyer understands your rights as an employee and will fight to protect them.

According to Hawaii’s Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, most employment in Hawaii is on an at-will basis. There are two primary exceptions, however. The at-will doctrine does not apply if you have an employment contract that requires a reason for termination. Additionally, positions under a collective bargaining agreement are not typically at-will.

Types Of Wrongful Termination

In Hawaii, there are many different instances where wrongful termination can take place. In some cases, an employer is ignorant of labor laws and may not even realize they have erred. This is why big corporations rely on human resources experts. You should always turn to an attorney if you suspect wrongful termination. In the following paragraphs are some of the red flags that you should watch out for.

Limitations of At-Will Employment

Because one of the most common forms of employment is at-will, there are limitations to this. At-will employment doesn’t allow an employer to fire a person for any discriminatory reason. Hawaii state, federal, or local laws prohibit these reasons.

In addition to laws regarding discrimination and retaliation, Hawaii legislation also prohibits termination for some further reasons. Some of these include:

  • Declaring bankruptcy or experiencing a wage garnish
  • On-the-job injury, unless the employer has no available work that the employee is capable of doing
  • Using available sick time
  • Failing a drug or alcohol test

An employer also can’t fire an employee as a form of retaliation for reporting any illegal activities within the company. Would your superior fire you for any of these reasons? If so, you may be able to file a wrongful termination lawsuit against your employer.

Discrimination

Discrimination is one of the most common forms of wrongful termination. When an employee is fired because of their race, religion, sex, national origin, ethnicity, pregnancy, age, or disability, it violates established laws meant to protect specific personal characteristics. There are also some states that prohibit employers from discriminating based on the gender identity or the sexual orientation of their employees.

If you believe that you have been penalized or fired in Hawaii  for one of these discriminatory reasons listed above, you may be able to file a claim with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. An experienced Hawaii attorney can walk you through the process to help ensure the best possible outcome.

Retaliation

Your employer can’t fire you for certain protected activities. For example, your employer can’t fire you for taking medical leave, or for participating in an investigation of job violations and wage violations. Additionally, filing a complaint with the EEOC, or informing your employer about discrimination or harassment, are not fireable offenses. 

Hawaii’s Whistleblower Protection Act prevents an employer from penalizing an employee who reports unlawful behavior. Under this law, your employer cannot fire you, demote you, or cut your pay as a form of retaliation. However, the law does contain an exception. If you knowingly file a false complaint or report, your employer can lawfully terminate your employment.

There are some states that also prevent employee termination for taking time off to vote, perform jury duties, or serve in the military. You also have some protection if your employer has fired you for reporting a violation of safety laws or environmental regulations.

What To Do If You’ve Been Wrongfully Terminated in Hawaii

Do you believe you are the victim of wrongful termination? You may be entitled to compensatory damages, reinstatement, back pay, and other forms of relief. However, the exact definition of wrongful termination will depend on where you live. To find out, contact a dedicated and qualified wrongful termination lawyer. Discuss your circumstances and the Hawaii laws that your employer has to follow in your area.

Remember that there are usually time constraints on how long you can wait to file your claim, so don’t delay. This could cause evidence to slip through your fingers or you may miss the deadline altogether. You want a favorable outcome and so will your lawyer, so try to approach your case as proactively as possible, even before you are certain you have one.

Under Hawaii statute, claims based on state anti-discrimination laws must be filed within 180 days of the most recent instance of discrimination. However, if you choose to file a claim based on federal laws, you have 300 days. Furthermore, if you are filing a breach of contract or other civil case in Hawaii civil court, the statute of limitations is 6 years.

Step One: Gather Evidence

It’s important to start gathering all the evidence you can, no matter how small. Ideally, you had reason to suspect that your employer might terminate you wrongfully and started the process some time before. If you need to return to the office to clear out your desk or still have access to the work email, use the opportunity wisely. However, be mindful of any employment agreements or confidentiality issues.

Step Two: Find an Attorney

Hiring an experienced Hawaii wrongful termination lawyer will help you take the first steps so that you make a strong case to get the outcome you seek. Hawaii employment laws are intricate and are constantly changing. Therefore, you should always work with an attorney who focuses on this specific area.

Step Three: File a Complaint

If you have not yet had your case reviewed by an attorney, the EEOC built a self-evaluation tool to help you decide if filing a claim with them is an appropriate way to handle your case. An attorney simplifies this part of the process by helping you to write the complaint. You serve your employer notice. Then, the resolution process starts there. Note that not all cases make it to a courtroom as some employers prefer to settle.

Discrimination claims based on federal law can be filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. However, if you decide to file based on Hawaii law, the investigating agency is the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission. But if your wrongful termination is not based on discrimination, you will likely file in your local district or circuit court.

Why You Should Hire A Wrongful Termination Lawyer

Filing a wrongful termination lawsuit in Hawaii can be overwhelming, especially if you’ve been treated unfairly by your employer. Speaking to an experienced lawyer can help you to understand what legal rights you have as a victim and if your case is applicable for wrongful termination. For some people, the opportunity to finally have someone listen also helps to ease the burden they’ve been carrying.

We understand that finding the right attorney can be hard. This is why we created our service to connect clients in need with experienced Hawaii attorneys. To match with the right lawyer, you simply provide your location, category, and some other additional information. We then send you your options as soon as they are available.

Our company charges no fees to connect you with the legal services you need. Some Hawaii attorneys or practice areas may require legal fees upfront, but there are many that do not. Some professionals may not charge a single penny at all until they win your case.

Are you ready to find a qualified Hawaii attorney who can help you fight for your job or get justice for the wrongful termination you suffered? 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!

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