GEORGE F. LEE / GLEE@STARBULLETIN.COM
Amy Agbayani, left, listened yesterday as Hale Koa Hotel supervisor Joyce Alcover recalled an incident in which she says she was sexually harassed by a manager.
Groups demand action from Hale Koa Hotel
Activists urge hotel management to act immediately on harassment allegations
One week after five Honolulu women filed formal complaints of sexual harassment by a manager at the Hale Koa Hotel, several Filipino and civil rights groups are demanding more action on their behalf.
The groups, which include the National Association of Federated Filipino American Associations and Friends for Civil Rights, held a rally before the Hale Koa Hotel yesterday morning.
They demanded that management take the complaints more seriously and act on them. The Equal Employment Opportunity office of the U.S. Army, which owns and operates the hotel, already has conducted a preliminary investigation into the women's complaints. It has 180 days to render a decision.
Hale Koa Hotel General Manager John Jefferis says the alleged perpetrator is on leave, and when he returns will be assigned to management duties away from his previous post at the hotel's parking garage. Two of the five complainants still work at the hotel.
Meanwhile, an independent investigator from the U.S. Army's headquarters in Washington, D.C., is slated to come to Hawaii to investigate as well.
Filipino and civil rights groups gathered outside the Hale Koa Hotel yesterday to demand more action from hotel management regarding recent allegations of sexual harassment.
"This is an issue a broad sector of the community wants to watch, monitor and support," said Amy Agbayani, former chairwoman of the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission. "We believe this is not just one case, but a pattern of problems. The senior management seems to have known about these allegations without taking quick action to address them."
Last week, five Honolulu women filed formal complaints with the U.S. Army's Equal Employment Opportunity office, alleging that John "Jack" Lloyd, parking garage manager and at one point hotel EEO counselor, had sexually harassed them.
The Army owns and operates Hale Koa Hotel as well as the surrounding Fort DeRussy area.
Two of the women, including a supervisor, Joyce Alcover, still work at the hotel, while three said they grew frustrated and left their jobs.
Halii Coleman and Ernestine Gonda, two of the complainants who have left the hotel, said that Lloyd made lewd sexual comments and created a hostile environment by having an affair with one of his subordinates, a married woman.
The EEO, which already has conducted a preliminary investigation, has 180 days to render a decision, subject to appeal or a civil lawsuit in U.S. District Court.
Hale Koa's general manager John Jefferis said Lloyd was placed on leave last week, and will return to management duties away from the parking garage until the investigation is complete.
"As soon as we are provided the details and pertinent facts in this matter, a thorough investigation will be conducted and appropriate action taken," said Jefferis.
He added that concerns of ethnic bias raised within the community were especially troublesome. Some of the complainants had alleged they were discriminated against because of their Filipino ancestry as well as female gender.
"I've not heard of such concerns in my 13 years at the Hale Koa Hotel," he said. "The Hale Koa 'ohana' has developed over 32 years in unselfish service to our military guests based on mutual respect and treatment of individuals rather than by ethnic group."
GEORGE F. LEE / GLEE@STARBULLETIN.COM
Above, Amy Agbayani, second from right, and the Rev. Alan Mark showed solidarity yesterday with Hale Koa Hotel workers who have filed sexual harassment complaints.
An independent investigator from the U.S. Army's headquarters in Washington, D.C., will be looking into the case, he said.
Last week, Jefferis met with the community groups and said he would try to update them on the investigation within three weeks.
But Agbayani said the Hale Koa needs to take further steps to show they are taking the allegations seriously. Many of the workers are immigrants of Filipino descent, she said, and therefore afraid of losing job security.
"We're not out to look for cases or to make frivolous complaints," she said. "But we're supporting their right to come forward."
A very clear pattern of intimidation is evident, said Alan Mark, a reverend and president of Faith Action for Community Equity, or FACE.
Rosa Domasing, a former Hale Koa worker, came forward at yesterday's rally to say she had been sexually assaulted in a storage room 10 years ago.
Domasing, who left the hotel after two years of employment, says that the supervisor asked her to follow him to a dark storage room, then pushed her inside, and started kissing and fondling her.
She complained to her supervisor at the time, and was informed it would never happen again. However, news of the recent allegations angered her enough to recount her story.
Alcover said she was retaliated against for her complaints, and that management tried to cover it up.
"It's really hard," she said. "But I feel that I have to help these people by coming out. Why should I quit? If I love my job and I can do my job, why should I quit? Management should take these people out."
She added: "What if it happens to the next person and then the next?"
Groups present at the rally yesterday included FACE, the National Association of Federated Filipino American Associations, and Friends for Civil Rights.