After Hawaii Civil Rights Commission found Research Institute for Hawaii USA responsible for religious and sexual discrimination, it ruled that the company must compensate its former executive director, Kay Lorraine Bate, a sum of $843,000 for punitive damages.
The five-member commission held RIH USA CEO Christopher Damon Haig responsible for the discrimination and stated in its 66 page ruling, “...the weight of the evidence shows that Haig's harassment of Complainant was based on a combination of two protected factors – because Complainant was Jewish and a woman.”
Now RIH USA and Haig together have to pay Bate $200,000 in compensatory damages; $343,200 in back pay; and another $300,000 in punitive damages. In addition, RIH USA was asked to implement a non-discrimination policy and stop discriminating against employees on the basis of religion or sex.
Technically, Haig is the only one that is liable in this case because the RIH was merely his “alter ego,” and using the company’s status as a shield against individual liability would lead to inequity and injustice. The case was presented for hearing by HCRC executive director William Hoshijo after Bate filed a complaint on grounds of employment discrimination. Haig and RIH USA were represented by attorney Bruce Voss while Bate was represented by attorneys Susan Ichinose and Margery Bronster.
“This final decision is significant for two reasons. Strong state civil rights protections against religious and sexual harassment as well as affirming that there is no place for anti-Semitism or other religious discrimination in Hawaii,” said Hoshijo.
State as well as federal anti-discrimination agencies have outlawed hostile environment harassment in employment based on race, sex, age and religion. The commission’s decision can be appealed at the state circuit court within a period of 30 days. The commission made its decision public on August 26.
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