Employee Discipline: Hawaii
Federal law and guidance on this subject should be reviewed together with this section.
Author: Anna Elento-Sneed, Alston Hunt Floyd & Ing
- Although Hawaii recognizes employment at will, there are many exceptions. Employers are prohibited from disciplining or discharging employees based on a long list of protected classifications and protected activities. See Employment at Will.
- Hawaii workplaces that are enclosed or partially enclosed are smoke-free. See Employment at Will and Smoke-Free Workplace.
- State agencies will expect employers to produce documentation to support discipline and discharge actions. See Investigations of Employee Behavior.
- Investigations must be initiated as soon as possible to avoid individual liability, and should be kept confidential. See Investigations of Employee Behavior and When to Investigate
- Hawaii laws regulate or prohibit certain investigation techniques. See Investigations of Employee Behavior and Conducting Investigations.
- Progressive discipline is common, but employers may be required to impose more severe discipline in cases involving harassment or retaliation. See The Process of Discipline and Equal Employment Opportunity Considerations.
- Employers using performance improvement plans must take precautions to avoid implied contract obligations. See The Process of Discipline and Performance Improvement Plans.
- Employers may need to use alternative methods to communicate discipline actions in light of Hawaii's multilingual and multicultural work force. See The Process of Discipline and Conducting the Discipline Meeting.
- Special precautions must be taken in situations involving employees with workers' compensation claims, disabled employees, employees with medical marijuana certificates, and employees convicted of crimes. See The Process of Discipline and Treatment of Protected Classes.
- Special precautions must also be taken when terminating employees for attendance, violation of confidentiality or noncompete agreements, or abuse of drugs or alcohol. See The Process of Discipline and Specific Discipline Situations.