Workers' Compensation

Hawaii: Exclusive Remedy Provision Does Not Bar Civil Actions for Harm to Employee’s Reputation

The Hawaii Workers’ Compensation Act’s bar on claims for injuries incurred in the course of the employment does not extend to injuries to a person’s reputation, held the state’s Supreme Court. Accordingly, where two county employees filed a defamation suit against county officials following publication in a local newspaper that the employees had been fired for operating a private business out of a county-leased warehouse and for sponsoring parties at the warehouse during which alcoholic beverages were served, the civil action was not barred by exclusivity. The Court said the state legislature did not intend for the exclusive remedy provisions of the Act to extend to defamation and false light claims. The term “personal injury” did not , the purpose and language of the Act did not extend to all legally cognizable injuries that might arise in the course of employment. A reputation injury was not the sort of “personal injury” contemplated by the Act. 

Thomas A. Robinson, J.D., the Feature National Columnist for the LexisNexis Workers’ Compensation eNewsletter, is the co-author of Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law (LexisNexis).

LexisNexis Online Subscribers: Citations below link to Lexis Advance. 

See Nakamoto v. Kawauchi, 2018 Haw. LEXIS 99 (May 8, 2018)

See generally Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, § 104.04.

Source: Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, the nation’s leading authority on workers’ compensation law