High court shields supervisor from bias lawsuit
HONOLULU (AP) — A man who claims he was fired from a car dealership in 2002 for complaining about his supervisor’s derogatory remarks can move forward with his lawsuit against the company but not against the supervisor, the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled.
The 4-1 decision said the supervisor cannot be kept personally liable.
Gerald Lales contends he was fired because he complained supervisor Gary Marxen Sr. made derogatory remarks about Lales’ French origin at their jobs at Wholesale Motors Co.
A circuit court judge threw out the lawsuit. The state appeals court in 2012 reinstated the claims against Marxen and the company.
The case has been closely watched in part because of the issue of personal liability for workers and supervisors who are not defended by their employer.
Associate Justice Simeon Acoba dissented from the 76-page opinion written by Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald. Acoba wrote the state anti-discrimination law keeps any person liable for aiding discriminatory practices. He would have let claims against Marxen move forward, he wrote.
The ruling was bittersweet, said Lales’ attorney, Daphne Barbee, but the good outweighed the bad.
Wholesale Motors attorney Christopher Muzzi said the company is reviewing the majority opinion and Acoba’s dissent.
Rules for posting comments
Comments posted below are from readers. In no way do they represent the view of Oahu Publishing Inc. or this newspaper. This is a public forum.
Comments may be monitored for inappropriate content but the newspaper is under no obligation to do so. Comment posters are solely responsible under the Communications Decency Act for comments posted on this Web site. Oahu Publishing Inc. is not liable for messages from third parties.
IP and email addresses of persons who post are not treated as confidential records and will be disclosed in response to valid legal process.
Do not post:
- Potentially libelous statements or damaging innuendo.
- Obscene, explicit, or racist language.
- Copyrighted materials of any sort without the express permission of the copyright holder.
- Personal attacks, insults or threats.
- The use of another person's real name to disguise your identity.
- Comments unrelated to the story.
If you believe that a commenter has not followed these guidelines, please click the FLAG icon below the comment.