New Hawaii Law Protects Domestic, Sexual Violence Victims from Discrimination

By David Banks

Hawaii’s Act 206, which provides employment protections for victims of domestic and sexual violence, becomes effective January 1, 2012. Hawaii is one of only five states to enact a law protecting victims of domestic and sexual violence. Among other things, the Act:

  • prohibits discrimination on the basis of domestic or sexual violence victim status under H.R.S. Section 378-2;
  • requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for employees who are victims of domestic or sexual violence under H.R.S. Chapter 378, part VI; and
  • provides that an employer won’t be required to make the reasonable accommodation of providing flexible hours if doing so causes an undue hardship to business operations.

The Hawaii Civil Rights Commission (HCRC) held a public hearing in October to discuss implementing the Act. Also in preparation for the implementation of the Act, the HCRC enforcement staff asked business organizations, employee-assistance programs, and labor groups to respond to a survey featuring questions such as whether they have sought guidance involving domestic violence/sexual violence victims, what kind of accommodations they expect to offer, and how they plan to address confidentiality of a victim’s status.

A majority of employers surveyed indicated a willingness to provide reasonable accommodations, but many had questions about additional responsibilities under the Act.

A more detailed article about the new law can be found in the November 2011 issue of Hawaii Employment Law Letter.