United States District Court, D. Hawaii
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY
JUDGMENT AS TO COUNT I AND DISMISSING THE REMAINING,
STATE-LAW CLAIMS WITHOUT PREJUDICE
C. Kay Sr. United States District Judge.
reasons set forth below, the Court GRANTS Defendant's
Motion for Summary Judgment with respect to Claim I and
DISMISSES the remaining state-law claims.
December 28, 2016, Plaintiff Gordon Knowles
(“Plaintiff”) filed a Complaint against
Hawai‘i Pacific University (“HPU” or
“Defendant”). ECF No. 1 (“Compl.”).
Defendant filed an Answer (“Ans.”) to
Plaintiff's Complaint on February 1, 2017. ECF. No. 9.
Complaint pleads claims arising out of a series of events
that included the termination of his employment with
Defendant. Plaintiff claims that Defendant (1) engaged in
unlawful retaliation in violation of Title VII of the Civil
Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-3; (2) engaged in
unlawful retaliation in violation of the Hawai‘i
Whistleblowers' Protection Act (HWPA), Haw. Rev. Stat.
§ 378-62; and (3) breached the parties' employment
contract. Compl. ¶¶ 24, 26, 28.
filed the instant Motion for Summary Judgment
(“MSJ”), along with a Concise Statement of Facts
(“Def.'s CSF”), on April 11, 2018. ECF Nos.
44, 45. On June 19, 2018, Plaintiff filed his Memorandum in
Opposition to Defendant's Motion (“Opp.”),
along with a Concise Statement of Facts (“Pl.'s
CSF”). ECF Nos. 51, 52. Exhibits in support of
Plaintiff's Concise Statement of Facts contained
unredacted personal identifiers in violation of Local Rule
100.10.1, and Plaintiff filed a redacted version of the
affected exhibits on June 20, 2018. ECF No. 53. Plaintiff
then filed errata to his Opposition Memorandum on June 22,
2018. ECF No. 58. Defendant filed a Reply on June 26, 2018
(“Reply”). ECF No. 59.
Court held a hearing on Tuesday, July 10, 2018 at 11:00 a.m.
regarding Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment.
1998, Plaintiff was hired by Defendant as an Adjunct
Professor of Sociology. Pl.'s CSF, Decl. of Gordon
Knowles (“Knowles Decl.”) ¶ 2, ECF No. 53.
Plaintiff contends that Defendant was aware at the time of
his hiring that he was also teaching courses at the
University of Hawai‘i (“UH”). Knowles Decl.
¶ 3. Plaintiff became an assistant professor and regular
faculty member at HPU in 2002. Def.'s CSF Ex. P,
Deposition of Gordon Knowles (“Knowles Dep.”),
ECF No. 45-20 at 325; Def.'s CSF Ex. 14, Gordon
Knowles's Response to Defendant's First Request for
Admissions to Plaintiff (“Knowles Admis.”) ¶
2, ECF No. 45-20. Plaintiff was made an associate professor
during the 2007-08 school year. Knowles Dep. Ex. 5, ECF No.
45-20 at 366-67. At the time of the at-issue events detailed
below, Plaintiff was a member of the United States Army
Reserve. Def.'s CSF, Gordon Knowles's Response to
Defendant's First Request for Answers to Interrogatories
to Plaintiff (“Knowles Interrog.”), ECF No. 45-20
January 22, 2014, Carlos Juarez, then Chair of the Department
of Social Sciences and Plaintiff's supervisor, informed
Plaintiff via email that “it ha[d] been brought to
[Juarez's] attention” that Plaintiff was teaching
courses at Honolulu Community College (“HCC”) and
at UH, in violation of HPU policy and the Faculty Handbook.
Def.'s CSF, Decl. of Carlos Juarez (“Juarez
Decl.”) ¶ 3, 7, ECF No. 45-2; Def.'s CSF Ex.
H, ECF No. 45-12 at 247-48; see Knowles Decl. ¶
4. In the email exchange that followed, Plaintiff said that
he felt Juarez was “targeting [him] again, ”
discriminating against him on the basis of his status as an
Army Reservist and veteran, and continually harassing him.
Def.'s CSF Ex. H at 243-46; see Juarez Decl.
¶ 8. Plaintiff stated that he suffered from PTSD and
accused Juarez of hating him and “looking for a way to
fire [him] for quite some time.” Def.'s CSF Ex. H
at 243. In that same exchange, Juarez excerpted the
applicable portion of the then-operative, 2004 Faculty
Before accepting outside employment, a faculty member with
regular status must write a letter fully disclosing the
nature of the employment written to the Vice President of
Academic Administration and the President of the University
to obtain written approval to engage in such employment. New
faculty members must also inform the Vice President of
Academic Administration about whether they are employed or
own a business which provides income and, if so, obtain
written authorization from the appropriate dean as well as
the President to continue such employment while also being
employed by the University. The University has no desire to
interfere with outside interests as long as these interests
do not interfere with the faculty member's performance or
the goals and objectives of the University. Outside
employment or income should not be with an organization that
is in direct competition with our University.
Id. at 245-46.
January 23, 2014, Juarez forwarded the January 22 email
exchange to David Lanoue, then Dean of the College of
Humanities and Social Sciences at HPU, asking Lanoue to
intervene. Def's CSF, Decl. of David Lanoue
(“Lanoue Decl.”) ¶ 2, 5, ECF No. 45-1;
Def.'s CSF Ex. I, ECF No. 45-13 at 250. Lanoue then
emailed Plaintiff and requested a meeting with him that
afternoon. Lanoue Decl. ¶ 7; Def.'s CSF Ex. B, ECF
No. 45-6 at 233. The following day, Plaintiff sent an email
to Juarez and Lanoue with the subject line “Overloads
and Outside Teaching- Knowles Motivation.” Juarez Decl.
¶ 10; Def.'s CSF Ex. J, ECF No. 45-14 at 258. In
that email, Plaintiff stated that he engaged in outside
teaching in order to fund his research; he also referred to
the original source of information regarding his outside
teaching as a “stalker” and asked Juarez and
Lanoue to consider his motives, as well as those of the
“stalker, ” in “weighing out the
consideration of disciplinary action and termination
against” him. Def.'s CSF Ex. J at 258.
January 25, 2014, Lanoue informed Plaintiff via email that
“nobody is proposing that [he] be terminated or even
disciplined over this”; rather, HPU “simply
want[ed] [him] to fill out the necessary paperwork and become
familiar with the relevant portions of the [Faculty]
[H]andbook.” Lanoue Decl. ¶ 8; Def.'s CSF Ex.
C, ECF No. 45-7 at 234. In an email dated January 28, Lanoue
told Plaintiff that there appeared to be no
“stalker” involved; instead, an employee looking
at the HCC catalog “for other reasons” happened
to see Plaintiff's name on the teaching roster and
informed Juarez, who, in the process of verifying that
information, discovered that Plaintiff was teaching for UH as
well. Lanoue Decl. ¶ 9; Def.'s CSF Ex. D, ECF No.
45-8 at 235.
March 12 or 13, 2014, Juarez and Plaintiff discussed
Plaintiff's Professional Development Plan, Juarez Decl.
¶ 12; Def.'s CSF Ex. K, ECF No. 45-15 at 285,
together with an addendum that included, inter alia,
a comment regarding Plaintiff's outside teaching:
In light of recent awareness of teaching being done at an
external competitor university, the instructor is reminded
that any future outside teaching must get pre-approval form
the dean. Instructor explained that this is being taken up
directly with HR and that he has retained legal counsel to
challenge the university's policy.
Def.'s CSF Ex. K, ECF No. 45-15 at 289. Plaintiff (and
Juarez) signed both the addendum and the Professional
Development Plan. Id.
April 25, 2014, Juarez emailed Lanoue to inform him that
Juarez, “[i]n browsing the online class schedule for
[UH], . . . found two forthcoming courses listed for
[Plaintiff]”, one during the summer and one during the
fall. Juarez Decl. ¶ 13; Def.'s CSF Ex. L, ECF No.
45-16 at 290.
5, 2014, Plaintiff was offered a renewed contract for a
“regular faculty” position at HPU. Knowles Dep.
at 315; id. Ex. 8, ECF No. 45-20 at 368-371. The
contract was “for the period beginning August 16, 2014,
and ending August 15, 2019 (the ‘Appointment
Term'), ” “subject to the disciplinary,
termination, and other provisions of the new 2014 Faculty
Handbook.” Knowles Dep. Ex. 8 at 368. The contract
stated, inter alia:
By accepting this offer of appointment, you agree to observe
and comply with all University rules, regulations and
policies, including but not limited to the Faculty Handbook,
AAPPM, and Code of Ethical Conduct . . . .
You agree not to engage in any enterprise or activity that
may, in the judgment of the University, interfere with the
performance of your duties to the University . . . or with
the mission of the University and/or its affiliates. You are
subject to the University's rules on outside activities
and employment, as set forth in the Faculty Handbook and the
AAPPM's Conflicts of Interest Policy, as may be amended
from time to time.
If the University determines that you have not complied with
any University policy or procedure, you may be subject to
disciplinary action, up to and including termination of your
employment during the Appointment Term.
Id. at 368-70. On or about June 5, 2014, Plaintiff
accepted the offered appointment, signing his name below the
statement, “I accept employment at Hawai‘i
Pacific University under the terms and conditions set forth
in this letter, the Faculty Handbook, the AAPPM, and the code
of Ethical Conduct (as such documents may be amended by the
University from time to time).” Id. at 371.
August 16, 2014, Juarez notified Lanoue via email that
Plaintiff was scheduled to teach three courses at UH for the
fall 2014 term. Juarez Decl. ¶ 14; Def.'s CSF Ex. M,
ECF. No. 45-17 at 296. On August 20, 2014, Lanoue emailed a
notice to all faculty reminding them that (1) the 2014
version of the Faculty Handbook became operative on August
15, 2014, and (2) that handbook contained language regarding
outside employment, which Lanoue quoted:
“Before accepting outside employment, a Regular
Faculty member must write a letter fully disclosing the
nature of the employment to the Provost/Vice President of
Academic Affairs to obtain written approval to engage in such
employment. Prior to accepting a faculty appointment
to the Hawai‘i Pacific University, new regular faculty
members must also inform the Provost/Vice President of
Academic Affairs about whether they are employed or own a
business which provides income and, if so, obtain written
authorization from the Provost/Vice President to continue
such employment while also being employed by the University.
The University has no desire to interfere with outside
interests as long as these interests do not interfere with
the faculty member's performance or the goals and