Hale Koa harassment cases settled
STORY SUMMARY »
The U.S. Army has reached a settlement with seven workers at the Hale Koa Hotel who filed formal complaints of sexual harassment with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Linda Aragon, an attorney at Gilll & Zukeran representing the employees, confirmed that a settlement has been reached, but said the details were confidential.
In June, five former and current employees at the hotel filed the formal complaints with the EEOC, alleging that a parking garage manager there made unwanted advances and lewd sexual comments, creating a hostile work environment.
More workers at the Hale Koa came forward after the Star-Bulletin reported the complaints, including one male employee who alleged that he was being sexually harassed by his female superior.
A recently completed independent investigation by a senior member of the Army's Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command confirmed the allegations and also found that training at the hotel was inadequate. Proper training on how to file a complaint was provided. The Army Command also made several personnel changes as a result of the findings.
FULL STORY »
A settlement with the U.S. Army has been reached regarding seven claims of sexual harassment at the Hale Koa Hotel in Waikiki, after an independent Army investigation confirmed the allegations.
A total of seven claims of sexual harassment had been filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The U.S. Army owns and operates Hale Koa as well as the surrounding Fort DeRussy area.
Initially, five female employees alleged that John "Jack" Lloyd, a parking garage manager at the Waikiki hotel, made lewd jokes about female body parts and unwanted advances toward his subordinates.
At one point, Lloyd was also an EEO counselor.
More employees came forward after reading about the complaints in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, including one male employee who alleged he was being sexually harassed by his female superior.
Linda Aragon, an attorney with Gill & Zukeran representing the employees, confirmed the settlement yesterday, but declined to go into details, saying the terms were confidential.
"We're happy with the terms," she said.
Sources said that Lloyd will no longer work at the Hale Koa Hotel, and that other personnel changes were also made at the management level as well as the human resources department.
John Swanson, the U.S. Army's attorney, declined to comment. John Jefferis, general manager of the Hale Koa Hotel, did not return calls for comment by press time..
In June, five former and current female employees had filed formal complaints of sexual harassment with the EEOC.
Among them were Joyce Alcover, Ernestine Gonda, Halii Coleman and two other women who requested anonymity. Gonda and Coleman no longer worked at the Hale Koa at the time the complaints were filed.
More employees came forward after reading about the complaints in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin.
Several Filipino and civil rights groups also got involved, urging the hotel's management to take the cases seriously and respond appropriately.
Among the allegations against the hotel were that the women were discouraged from filing complaints with the EEOC, even though they followed established procedures by first going to the human resources department and the U.S. Army's EEO office at Fort Shafter.
A senior member of the Army's Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command came from Washington D.C. in October to conduct an investigation of the complaints.
The investigation confirmed the sexual harassment allegations and found that a Hale Koa manager did not act properly when the allegations were brought to her attention, according to an Oct. 29 letter from U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Robert Wilson to U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Akaka obtained by the Star-Bulletin.
The investigation also revealed shortcomings in training by the EEO office serving the Hale Koa Hotel, as well as in informing employees how to file a complaint, Lt. Gen. Wilson wrote. He in said in his letter that EEO counselors recently provided new training to personnel at the hotel.
If the parties had not reached the voluntary settlement, the employees were ready to move forward with a lawsuit following a required 180-day period after filing their formal complaints. That deadline was drawing near.
At least one employee, Gonda, plans to return to work at the Hale Koa as a supervisor. She had worked at the Hale Koa from 2002 to 2005, but left after she grew frustrated with the harassment and hostile work environment.
"We are really pleased that the individuals involved will get some justice," said Amy Agbayani, former chair woman of the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission. "But the community continues to be concerned and will continue to monitor the Hale Koa to make sure this kind of problem doesn't occur again."