Hawaii State Supreme Court Finds Teachers Not Entitled to Back Pay

The Hawaii Supreme Court unanimously ruled today that certain substitute teachers and part-time teachers who had worked for the State of Hawaii at relevant times between 2000 and 2012 are not entitled to back wages or interest for alleged underpayments by the State. The total amount of back wages and interest on back wages allegedly owed by the State to more than 28,000 substitute and part-time teachers in two class action suits had totaled more than $56 million. Today’s decision by the Hawaii Supreme Court closes more than a decade of litigation and ends the claims raised by the class action plaintiffs.

The State previously paid more than $14 million in back wages to substitute teachers. The State believed, however, that it had paid part-time teachers everything they were owed. The State also denied that it owed interest on the back wages already paid.

Attorney General Doug Chin said, “The State and DOE appreciate the part-time teachers important contribution to the education of our youth. They can and should be paid for that contribution. But the State also has a duty to all citizens to ensure that part-time teachers are not paid more than they are owed.

The Supreme Court of Hawaii today applied the appropriate laws under the circumstances and determined that the State properly paid part-time teachers the full amount they were owed. The Court also affirmed that no interest is owed.”

The State of Hawaii was represented at all stages of this litigation, including the appeal, by state attorneys from within the Hawaii Department of the Attorney General. The class action plaintiffs were represented by the local law firm Alston Hunt Floyd & Ing.

Full text of the ruling can be read here: Kawashima – Opinion of the Court