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Honolulu Hawaii Employment Law Blog

Yes, you have a right to discuss your salary

If you are at the mid-point of your career, you may feel a great sense of pride in your earnings potential. After all, you likely make significantly more than you did when you entered your profession. Of course, if you are a woman, there is a good chance that you earn only 85 cents for every dollar your male colleagues take home. 

Because employers tend to rely on a person’s salary history when setting wages, wage disparities often plague female workers throughout their careers. In the Aloha State, though, employers may not ask about how much you have earned in previous positions. They may also not prohibit you from discussing your salary with your colleagues or others. 

Did your employer gloss over your contract before firing you?

In the state of Hawaii, the “at-will” working relationship means that employers can terminate employees, or employees can leave their job, for any reason or no reason, and they do not have to provide prior notice.

Evidently, this is what happened to you. The problem involves a stipulation in your employment contract, which could put your employer in violation of the law.

Does your severance agreement comply with ADEA requirements?

If you are age 40 or older and the company you work for terminated you, what kind of severance agreement did they offer?

An older departing employee must have a severance agreement that conforms to EEOC-approved requirements and complies with the ADEA and the OWBPA.

Age discrimination often a barrier for older workers

These days, there are certain laws in place federally and across Hawaii that make it illegal to discriminate against you because of your age. Unfortunately, many employers across the state and nation continue to treat those of particular ages differently than others. This can make it hard for you to find or maintain gainful employment.

According to AARP, age discrimination is so prevalent in this country that two-thirds of workers between 45 and 84 claim to have experienced it in the workplace. Additionally, many believe that age is now the single-biggest hurdle preventing jobseekers 35 and older from obtaining employment.

Sexual harassment complaints in Hawaii are decreasing

The "Me Too" movement is a country-wide phenomenon that is exposing sexual harassers and empowering victims. While the national headlines are important, it is imperative to look at what is happening right here in Hawaii. What is occurring in the state may actually surprise you. 

Despite the increase in awareness of sexual harassment and a growing intolerance for perpetrators, the number of complaints in Hawaii is decreasing. Here is a look at the numbers and what you can learn from them.

What is an adverse employment action?

As an employee in Hawaii, you likely know that if you report workplace discrimination to your supervisor, your company’s management team or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, your employer cannot fire you or retaliate against you in any other way. Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act strictly forbids such adverse employment actions

What you may not realize, however, is that adverse employment actions can take an almost infinite variety of forms. Some, such as wrongful termination, are fairly self-evident. Other types of retaliatory discrimination are less blatant, but can include the following:

  • Reducing or threatening to reduce your salary or wages
  • Reassigning your work duties to other employees
  • Relieving you of your supervisory responsibilities
  • Excessively examining your work
  • Threatening to report you or one of your family members to immigration authorities
  • Publicly criticizing you, especially in the media

3 ways older doctors can fight age discrimination

As a doctor, you provide life-saving care to your patients. When you have been in the medical field for decades, you should be rewarded and appreciated. Unfortunately, the opposite may occur. As an older physician, you may find yourself being the victim of age discrimination. 

Age discrimination in the workplace is illegal, and it is possible to overcome. Recently, a 77-year-old Cleveland doctor won an age discrimination lawsuit after he was forced to retire after working in the hospital for almost 20 years. If you suspect your employer is being discriminatory toward you because of your age, here is what you should do.

When can you file a claim for employment retaliation in Hawaii?

In general, there exist few grounds for you to challenge employer actions such as demotions or terminations. At-will employment means the law does not usually forbid employers from acting harshly or unfairly.

However, Hawaii law does carve out exceptions making certain types of employer conduct illegal. One of them is retaliating against certain types of actions by employees.

3 things employers should learn from Adams v. CDM Media

Searching for a job is one of the most stressful processes to go through. As you write cover letters, update your resume and embark on interviews, it can easily become an arduous pursuit. The resultant anxiety would only worsen if you suspect that prospective employers were discriminating against you based on your age. This is exactly what happened in the case of Adams v. CDM Media.

The case consisted a 59-year-old woman’s allegation that the company denied her employment on the basis of her age. The dispute eventually made its way to the Hawaii Supreme Court, and there are a few things that employers — and employees — can learn from the events of the case.


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