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HB Legal: Employment Law 2013

(page 3 of 4)

Anne T. Horiuchi, Partner, Labor and Employment

Our Labor and Employment attorneys routinely receive inquiries about Hawaii’s employment laws, such as:

Q: Are older workers the only ones protected from age discrimination?

A: No. Although the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act protects workers 40 years old and older, Hawai‘i law prohibits age discrimination, regardless of the complainant’s age.  Therefore, an employee’s/applicant’s age should not be the basis of an employment decision, unless age is a bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ). These are limited in application and narrowly construed.

Q: How does Hawai‘i provide enhanced protection for mothers in the workplace?

A: Hawai‘i expressly prohibits discrimination against women during pregnancy, who have continuing medical conditions after birth, or who are breastfeeding. Discrimination against any person based on marital status or domestic/sexual violence victim status is also against Hawai‘i law.  Women may be entitled to maternity leave “for a reasonable period of time” as determined by their doctor. Other reasonable accommodations may also be required for pregnant women or domestic violence victims.

Q: Can our business require all employees to only speak English in the workplace?

A: Hawai‘i law prohibits broad employment rules requiring that English be spoken at all times in the workplace. Hawai‘i employers may, however, require that employees only speak English at specified times where business necessity justifies that rule. In such instances, the employer must inform its employees of the general circumstances when only English must be spoken and the consequence of violating the rule in order to comply with Hawai‘i law.

Visit our labor and employment blog at www.akamaiemployer.com


(808) 547-5600
999 Bishop Street, Suite 1600
Honolulu, HI 96813


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