United Pub. Workers, AFSCME, Local 636, AFL-CIO v. AbercrombieAnnotate this Case
United Public Workers, AFSCME, Local 646, AFL-CIO (“UPW”) filed an action on behalf of the employees it represented, alleging (1) then-Governor Lingle and members of her administration retaliated against UPW members for filing a lawsuit opposing her statewide furlough plan; and (2) the State was unlawfully privatizing positions customarily performed by civil servants under the merit system. The circuit court dismissed the complaint based on a lack of jurisdiction. The intermediate court of appeals (ICA) vacated the circuit court’s judgment and remanded with instructions to stay the action pursuant to the primary jurisdiction doctrine so the parties could pursue appropriate administrative remedies before the Hawaii Labor Relations Board (HLRB). The Supreme Court primarily affirmed, holding (1) the ICA did not err in concluding that the primary jurisdiction doctrine was applicable to UPW’s retaliation claims because the claims required the resolution of issues that have been placed within the special competence of the HLRB, and that a stay, rather than a dismissal, was appropriate under the circumstances; and (2) the primary jurisdiction doctrine did not apply to UPW’s privatization claims, and therefore, the circuit court erred in dismissing these claims, and the ICA erred in referring the claims to the HLRB. Remanded.