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Know the Laws: Hawaii

UPDATED October 5, 2016

Workplace Protections

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Hawaii state law provides employment protections for domestic violence victims who need to take time off from work to handle issues related to domestic violence.

What Your Employer Can and Cannot Do

back to topCan my employer harass me or tell other co-workers about my situation if I take time off to deal with domestic violence?

No.  The law requires that your employer keep your domestic violence situation strictly confidential – this includes any documents that you gave to your employer, any statements that you made to him/her, and the fact that you or your child is a victim.*  For example, your employer cannot tell your co-workers, your clients, or other employers that you took time off from work because of a domestic violence issue.  The employer can only discuss your domestic violence situation if you (as the employee) request it or consent to it; it is ordered by a court or administrative agency; or it is required by federal or state law.*

* H.R.S. § 378-72(i)

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back to topI took off from work to deal with my domestic violence issues. Can I be put in a lower position when I return?

No.  When you return to work, your employer cannot fire you or put you in a lower-ranked position because you asked for the time, or took the time off.  Under the law, you must be placed in your original job or in a position of comparable (similar) status and pay.*

* H.R.S. § 378-72(h)

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back to topIf I am subpoenaed (ordered by the court) to testify in a domestic violence case, can my employer fire me? What if I am a witness and not the victim of domestic violence?

If you are subpoenaed by the court to testify in a domestic violence case, your employer cannot fire you.*  If your employer does fire or suspend you for testifying in a domestic violence case, you can sue the employer to get your job back and/ or for lost wages.  However, the legal action must be filed within 90 days from the firing or suspension date. The employer may also be violating criminal law as well.**

* H.R.S. § 378-72(a)(5)
** H.R.S. § 621-10.5

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back to topWhat actions can I take if my employer does not grant me leave?

If you are entitled to unpaid leave under the law described above, and your employer refuses, you can sue your employer in a civil action.  You can ask the court to allow you the protected leave and to order that your employer pay your attorney’s fees for the lawsuit.*

* H.R.S. § 378-72(j)

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