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Hello Reader Kabinetrakyat, welcome to our comprehensive guide on Hawaii Termination Laws!

When it comes to terminating employment, both employers and employees have certain rights and responsibilities in Hawaii. In this article, we will look at the various aspects of Hawaii termination laws, including the strengths and weaknesses, frequently asked questions, and more. Read on to learn what your rights are if you are an employer or employee planning to terminate employment in Hawaii.

Hawaii Termination Laws


In Hawaii, employment is generally “at will,” which means that an employer can terminate an employee for any reason at any time, except for reasons that are prohibited by law. Similarly, an employee can terminate their employment at any time, without providing a reason. However, there are various laws that restrict an employer’s ability to terminate an employee, and provide protections for employees who have been terminated unfairly.

The main source of Hawaii’s termination laws is the Hawaii Revised Statutes (HRS) and certain state and federal laws. It is important to understand these laws before terminating an employee to ensure compliance with the law and to avoid legal repercussions.

Now, let’s dive deeper into the strengths and weaknesses of Hawaii termination laws.

Strengths of Hawaii Termination Laws

1. Protection Against Discrimination

Hawaii law prohibits employers from terminating an employee on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, age, marital status, disability, or retaliation. Discrimination cases are usually well-documented, and employers can face heavy penalties in such cases.

2. Protection for Employees Who Refuse to Engage in Unlawful Activities

Employers in Hawaii may not terminate employees who refuse to engage in any activity that violates any state or federal law, or any regulation issued pursuant to a state or federal law. This serves to protect employees who refuse to engage in unethical and illegal practices, such as workplace harassment, discrimination, or retaliation.

3. Protection Against Retaliation

Hawaii law prohibits employers from terminating employees in retaliation for participating in certain activities, such as filing a complaint against their employer, participating in an investigation of their employer, or opposing their employer’s practices that they believe are unlawful or unethical.

4. Protection Against Breach of Contract

If an employee is working under a contract, a termination without cause could be considered a breach of contract. This can result in costly legal battles, which may be avoided through careful contract drafting and termination procedures.

5. Protection of Trade Secrets and Confidential Information

An employer in Hawaii may terminate an employee if they have violated trade secrets or kept confidential information without permission, especially if it harms the employer’s interests. This protection benefits employers, who can take legal action against the former employee who violates the confidentiality agreement.

6. At-Will Termination

The employer can terminate an employee at-will if there is no employment contract. This provides employers with flexibility in managing their workforce.

7. Severance Pay for Certain Employees

Hawaii law encourages employers to provide severance pay to its employees by requiring that they pay their employees within a certain amount of time if the employer creates a plan in which severance pay is offered. Employees who are terminated under certain conditions may be entitled to severance pay.

Weaknesses of Hawaii Termination Laws

1. No Requirement for Cause

As an at-will state, Hawaii does not require employers to terminate employees for a specific cause. This can lead to arbitrary or unfair termination of employees, particularly without protections identified in their employment contract.

2. No Protection of Severance Pay

Employers in Hawaii are not obligated to offer severance pay. Employees who lose their job in Hawaii are not legally entitled to receive severance pay, unless otherwise negotiated through an employment contract.

3. Choosing Employees Carefully

Employers in Hawaii should follow proper recruitment procedures in order to avoid the necessity of terminating an employee. In some cases, a lack of proper recruiting has led to costly legal battles for employers.

4. No Protection for Employees in Proration Period

Employers are not obligated to adhere to the same level of protections in the pro-ration period. The pro-ration period is the period of time after an employee is rehired, which can lead to an unproportionate amount of layoffs or terminations within the subsequent time frame.

5. Unemployed Eligibility for Unemployment Benefits

Employees in Hawaii who are laid off by their employers are usually eligible for unemployment benefits. However, Hawaii unemployment benefits are limited in duration, leaving the employee vulnerable to financial risks after the benefits end and it may require the employee to search for new employment quickly.

6. The Cost of Employee Turnover

High employee turnover can be expensive for employers. Unexpected dismissals can affect other employees’ morale, engage in costly litigation, can affect productivity, and even damage the employer’s reputation. Dismissals should be managed to avoid legal battles, employee disengagement, and related financial risks.

7. Employee Rights Still at Risk

Employment laws in Hawaii are constantly changing. Therefore, the employer or employee should regularly review the current employment laws to ensure continued compliance with termination laws risks.

Hawaii Termination Laws Table

Law Description
HRS 368 Prohibits Discrimination
HRS 378 Sets the ground rules for payment of severance pay in Hawaii
HRS 378-62 Sets the rules and procedures of termination for employers in Hawaii
Hawaii Administration Rules Chapter 12 Provides procedures for appeals processes for unemployment benefits
Federal COBRA Laws Provides protections for employees that lost their employment, which include extending employee health benefits

Frequently Asked Questions About Hawaii Termination Laws

1. Can an Employer In Hawaii Terminate an Employee Without Cause?

Yes, an employer in Hawaii can terminate an employee without cause given that the employee is at-will. That being said, it is important to comply with Hawaii laws that may restrict or otherwise affect the termination process.

2. Does an Employer in Hawaii Need to Provide Severance Pay?

No, Hawaii law does not require employers to provide severance pay. Check your employment contract to determine whether you are entitled to receive it.

3. What Is the Pro-Ration Period in Hawaii?

The pro-ration period is the period of time that begins when you are rehired until the time that you have worked long enough to accrue certain benefits. Hawaii laws do not provide the same level of protection during the pro-ration period as they do once benefits are accrued.

4. What Are the Best Practices for Terminating an Employee in Hawaii?

Ensure that the termination is conducted in compliance with Hawaii state law. Draft a well-written employment contract, offer a reasonable severance package, and provide employees with appropriate workplace protections.

5. What Legal Action can Employers Take in Hawaii if an Employee Fails to Follow Confidentiality Considerations?

If the employer provides confidentiality considerations and the employee fails to comply, the employer can pursue legal action in Hawaii courts.

6. Can Employees in Hawaii File Discrimination Claims Against Their Employer?

Yes, under Hawaii law, if an employee believes that they have been discriminated against, the employee may file a discrimination claim against their employer.

7. What Are the Risks of Unlawful Terminations for Employers in Hawaii?

Unlawful termination can result in costly lawsuits, loss of goodwill among customers, damage to the company’s reputation and productivity, and even criminal violations under Hawaii state and federal law. It is crucial for employers to follow Hawaii state laws regarding termination of employment to avoid damages and other negative consequences.

8. Can a Terminated Employee Be Denied Unemployment Benefits in Hawaii?

Yes, terminated employees in Hawaii may be denied unemployment benefits if the termination was due to gross misconduct, which include fraud, theft, and other types of serious misconduct under the law. Other conditions and rules may apply with unemployment benefits in Hawaii.

9. What Legal Action Can an Employee Take in Hawaii If They Claim Unlawful Termination?

An employee who believes they have been unlawfully terminated has the right to file a wrongful termination lawsuit against their employer in Hawaii state court. These suits can result in significant legal and financial damages for the employer.

10. Does Hawaii Provide Employers With an Alternative to At-Will Termination?

No, Hawaii is an at-will state, which means that employees may be terminated at any time for any reason, provided that the termination does not violate state or federal law and is not for discriminatory reasons.

11. What Can Employers Do to Comply with Hawaii Termination Laws?

To comply with Hawaii termination laws, employers should draft well-written employment contracts that comply with Hawaii state and federal laws, follow proper procedures for termination of employees, and provide reasonable severance provisions in the event of termination.

12. Can Employees in Hawaii Terminate Their Employment At Any Time?

Yes, employees in Hawaii may terminate their employment at any time, with or without notice if there is nothing in their employment contract that prohibits them from doing so.

13. Can an Employee’s Non-Attendance of a Hearing Result in Termination?

Yes, if an employee is scheduled for a hearing and fails to attend, this may result in termination. However, the employee may appeal the termination in accordance with Hawaii state law.


We hope that this comprehensive guide has provided useful information about Hawaii termination laws. Compliance with Hawaii termination laws is crucial for both employers and employees to avoid legal issues and damages. Employers should always take great care when considering termination, and employees should know their rights under Hawaii law. By being informed and acting accordingly, both employers and employees can benefit from the protections afforded by state and federal law, and enjoy a safe, fair, and productive work environment.

If you have any further questions or need additional information regarding Hawaii termination laws, please seek legal advice.

Closing Words

It is essential to understand Hawaii termination laws if you are an employer or employee in the state of Hawaii. Terminating an employee can be a sensitive matter that can result in significant legal and financial damages if it is not handled properly. Compliance with Hawaii state laws can ensure a safe, fair, and productive work environment that benefits employers, employees, and society. Always consult with legal experts in Hawaii before taking actions related to employment termination to avoid legal problems.


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