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Employment Laws in Hawaii

Filed under Hiring Workers. Fact checked on December 2, 2013.

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Employers in Hawaii must conform to these state rules relating to the employment relationship.

Employer includes anyone employing one or more employees.

Not covered are religious or denominational organizations, or organizations operated for charitable or educational purposes, that are operated, supervised, or controlled by a religious organization that employ individuals of a particular religion to promote its religious principles.

Prohibited Employment Discrimination

Discrimination in employment is prohibited based on:

  • race
  • sex (including pregnancy, childbirth and related medical conditions)
  • sexual orientation,
  • age
  • religion,
  • color
  • ancestry
  • disability
  • genetic information
  • marital status
  • arrest and court records
  • assignment of income for the purpose of child support obligation

Equal pay. Employers can not pay an employee at a different rate than another employee of the opposite sex if the job requires equal skill, effort, and responsibility and is performed under similar working conditions.

Pay differentials resulting from a seniority system, a merit system, a system that measures earnings by quantity or quality of production, a bona fide occupational qualification, or a differential based on any other permissible factor other than sex would not violate this rule.

Smoking. Employers cannot discharge, refuse to hire, or in any manner retaliate against an employee, applicant for employment, or customer because that employee, applicant, or customer exercises any rights afforded by Hawaii's smoking laws or reports or attempts to prosecute a violation of Hawaii's smoking laws.

An employee who works in a setting where an employer allows smoking does not waive or otherwise surrender any legal rights the employee may have against the employer or any other party.

Gender identity and expression. Discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression is considered sex discrimination and prohibited.

Civil unions. Effective January 1, 2012, the same rights, benefits and protections extended to married couples must be extended to partners in civil unions.

Same-sex marriage. Same-sex marriage is legalized effective December 2, 2013.

Domestic or sexual victim status. Effective January 1, 2012, employers are prohibited from discriminating against an employee or applicant based upon their status as a domestic or sexual violence victim if the victim provides notice to the employer regarding the status or the employer has actual notice of the status. Employers may verify the employee or applicant's status.

Effective January 1, 2012, employers are required to provide victims with reasonable accommodations in the workplace. These accommodations may include changing contact information and the work location of the employee and allowing the employee to work flexible hours.

Domestic workers. Effective July 1, 2013, employers are prohibited from discriminating against an individual employed as a domestic, in compensation or in terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of the individual’s race, sex (including gender identity or expression), sexual orientation, age, religion, color, ancestry, disability, or marital status.

Recordkeeping Requirements

Every employer is required to make and keep records relevant to the Fair Employment Practices Act and make reports as prescribed by the Commission on Employment and Human Resources.

Posting Requirements

As relief or penalty for an employment practices violation, an employer may be directed to conspicuously post notices setting forth requirements for compliance with the Fair Employment Practices Act or other relevant information that the Commission determines necessary to explain the Act.

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