The state of Hawaii has a strong commitment to the protection of civil rights, including discrimination in the workplace. The Hawaii Civil Rights Commission (HCRC) was created to reinforce the state legislation that “no person shall be denied the enjoyment of civil rights or be discriminated against in the exercise thereof because of race, religion, sex or ancestry.” Luckily for citizens and workers of Hawaii by law the Commission is afforded a lot of rights. They may hold hearings and make inquiries as it deems necessary, they may conduct depositions, and compel the attendance of parties and witnesses and the production of documents by the issuance of subpoenas, and they have the authorization to enforce the State’s anti-discrimination statutes by commencing civil action.
According to Hawaii (HI) job discrimination law in the workplace harassment is covered under anti-discrimination laws and the law is very strict about such matters especially with regard to sex or ancestry. Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct or visual forms of harassment of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment in the eyes of the law when submission to such conduct is implied as a term of employment or is used as the basis of employment or any employment decisions affecting an individual. If such conduct interferes with work performance or creates a hostile, offensive or intimidating work environment it would be considered a violation according to Hawaii (HI) job discrimination law in the workplace. The same goes for ethnic slurs and other verbal or physical conduct relating to an individual’s ancestry. The Employer is responsible for its acts and those of its agents and supervisory employees with respect to harassment. They may be punished under Hawaii (HI) job discrimination law in the workplace if the employer, its agent, or supervisory employee, knows or should have known of the conduct and failed to take immediate and appropriate corrective action.
Hawaii and federal law prohibits most employees from being discriminated against in the workplace. Equal employment opportunity laws protect most employees from most types of job discrimination. The Hawaii Civil Rights Commission is in charge of enforcing the laws and statutes that are designed to stop discrimination in the workplace. One of the laws they enforce is making sure that employers display the Hawaii State Discrimination Posters. These posters detail a worker’s rights to be treated fairly while working.
Hawaii protects the rights of people in its state constitution. Article I of Section 5 ensures that no person can be discriminated against because of race, sex, religion, or ancestry. These rights were backed up for workers in the late 1980s when Acts 219 and 386 created the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission. The commission has five commissioners who are appointed by the Governor for their commitment to human rights issues. These five commissioners aren’t paid for their work. However, they can hire a support staff including investigators and an attorney.
Hawaii continues to show its commitment to stamping out discrimination in the workplace by holding an annual training day to educate people about discrimination. In 2006, the training was a full day for the first time ever. This training is aimed at both employers and employees and is meant to educate so that discrimination in employment can be eliminated.
If anyone feels they have been discriminated against in the workplace because of his/her race, sex, religion, or ancestry, that person should file a complaint as soon as possible. That person is afforded rights under both Hawaii and federal laws. According to federal law, these rights must be prominently displayed on Hawaii State Discrimination Posters where all employees will see them. If the Hawaii State Discrimination Posters aren’t displayed correctly or if they don’t contain the correct information, employers may be subject to fines and/or penalties.
I know that in Hawaii, employees are given the right to a safe and healthy work environment. The Office of Safety and Health (HIOSH) was set up to protect workers from retaliation in the event that they witness a violation of law or safety in their workplace.
An employer may not discriminate against an employee who reports or threatens to report a violation of Hawaiian laws or contracts. Also, a worker has the right to participate in an investigation or hearing by a government agency or a court of law without fear of reprisal.
Some examples of discrimination that I read include: firing, demotion, transfer, layoff, losing the opportunity for overtime or promotion, exclusion from normal overtime work, assignment to an undesirable shift, denial of benefits such as sick leave or vacation time, blacklisting with other employers, taking away company housing, damaging credit at banks or credit unions and reducing pay or hours.
Workers have the right to complain to HIOSH and seek an inspection. If an employee believes that they have been discriminated against, they must mail a written complaint within 60 days of the discriminatory incident. HIOSH conducts an in-depth interview with each complainant to determine the need for an investigation. If evidence supports the worker’s claim of discrimination, HIOSH will ask the employer to restore the worker’s job, earnings and benefits. If the employer objects, HIOSH may take the employer to court to seek relief for the worker.
I know that a worker may also file a lawsuit in state court within 2 years after the occurrence of the alleged violation. Employers must post a notice of the law in their business. The Hawaii Complete Labor Law poster is available detailing all current Hawaiian labor laws.