Employment Discrimination in Hawaii

Employees in Hawaii who have experienced discrimination at work may be eligible to file a claim. Employment discrimination in Hawaii is the treating of a person or group of people differently from anyone else at work, because of they are a member of a legally protected group including race, sex, age, or religion.

The Hawaii Employment Practices Act helps to protect employees in Hawaii from unlawful workplace discrimination.

What Kind of Discrimination Laws Are in Place in Hawaii?            

The Hawaii Employment Practices Act states that it is illegal for an employer to discriminate against its employees based on religion, race, national origin, color, ancestry and sex and the following:


  • status as a victim of domestic or sexual violence;
  • sexual orientation;
  • pregnancy;
  • mental or physical disability;
  • marital status;
  • genetic information;
  • gender identity or expression;
  • childbirth;
  • breastfeeding or related medical conditions;
  • arrest and court records unless there has been a conviction directly related to  responsibilities in the workplace;
  • credit history or credit report;
  • age.


Who is Protected by Both Federal And State Laws in Hawaii?            

Any employee who belongs to a protected class based on race, disability, age and sex, etc. is covered by both Hawaii employment discrimination laws and federal laws.

The Hawaii Employment Practices Act states it is against the law for an employer to discriminate on the basis of national origin, race, religion, age, color, ancestry, sex including gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, marital status, mental or physical disability, pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding or related medical conditions, genetic information, AIDS/HIV, credit history or credit report, status as a victim of domestic or sexual violence, or arrest and court records unless the conviction is directly related to work responsibilities.

What Employers are Covered By Discrimination Laws in Hawaii?            

The Hawaii anti-discrimination statute covers employers with any number of employees. If a workplace has from 1 to 14 employees, a workplace discrimination claim in Hawaii should be filed with the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission (HCRC), while the EEOC deals with federal law which covers employers with 15 or more employees.

Which Hawaii Agencies Regulate These Laws?           

The Hawaii Civil Rights Commission (HCRC) enforces Hawaii workplace discrimination laws. However, is possible to file a discrimination claim either with this state administrative agency or the federal administrative agency which is called the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

These two agencies have what is referred to as a "work-sharing agreement," which typically means that the two agencies cooperate with one another when processing claims. Filing a claim with both agencies is not required, as long as the employee discriminated at work in Hawaii indicates to one of the agencies that you want it to "cross-file" the claim with the second agency.

How do I File a Discrimination Claim in Hawaii?            

In Hawaii, a workplace discrimination claim can be filed with either the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission (HCRC) which is the state agency or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) which is the federal administrative agency.

These two agencies operate a "work-sharing agreement," which means that these two agencies cooperate when processing a Hawaii workplace discrimination claim. Filing a claim with both agencies is not necessary, as long as you indicate to one of the two agencies that you would like it to "cross-file" the claim with the second agency.

The EEOC provides an online service that allows individuals who have filed a Hawaii workplace discrimination claim to check the progress of the charge online.

When the charge is filed, the EEOC will provide you with a copy of your charge and after 10 days, the EEOC will send to your employer a notice and a copy of the charge. At this point the EEOC will ask the employer and employee to solve the workplace discrimination by mediation.

If the EEOC decides to follow up your claim it may conduct an investigation and if it decides that your workplace discrimination did not take place you will be sent a "Notice of Right to Sue" gives you the permission to file a lawsuit.

If the EEOC declares that discrimination has taken place then it will try to negotiate a voluntary settlement with the employer. If it is not possible to reach a settlement the EEOC will decide whether it should agency file a lawsuit. If the EEOC decides against filing a lawsuit then you will be told you have a "Notice of Right to Sue."

How Long Do I Have to File an Employment Discrimination Claim in Hawaii?          

There are strict time limits in force in Hawaii for employment discrimination claims. To preserve your claim under state law, you are required to file your claim with the HCRC (or cross-file with the EEOC within180 day of the date the Hawaii workplace discrimination took place.

Under federal law, you should ensure your claim is filed with the EEOC (or cross-file with the state agency) within300 days of the date you were discriminated at work.

How Do I Get Help Filing an Employment Discrimination Claim in Hawaii?

If the EEOC cannot resolve your Hawaii workplace discrimination but you want to pursue your claim further matter, you will need to take your claim to court with the help of a lawyer. Your lawyer may decide to file your employment discrimination case in the federal court.


Additional Resources

List of EEOC Offices in Hawaii

Hawaii Workplace Sexual Harassment