by Andrew Walden
While Hawaii’s boating facilities rot, DLNR Department of Boating and Ocean Recreation (DOBOR) employees seem to have lots of time on their hands.
A sexual harassment lawsuit, filed August 18, 2022, against DOBOR Director Ed Underwood, details allegations running from 2017-2021.
The case was dismissed, March 15, 2023, after the parties agreed to an out-of-court settlement.
From 2017 to current date, the Waianae Small Boat harbormaster was threatened with beheading by mob-connected sovereignty activists, multiple boats ran aground after their loosing their mooring buoys off Lahaina, and, as usual, several dead bodies were found at Keehi Lagoon.
Meanwhile, here is what DOBOR officials were busy with, according to the complaint:
5. On July 25, 2016, Plaintiff … was hired by DLNR as an OA III. Plaintiff got promoted to Secretary III in June 2019….
6. While employed by Defendants UNDERWOOD and DLNR until December 2020, Plaintiff was subjected by Defendant DLNR's agent, Defendant UNDERWOOD, to unwelcome and unsolicited verbal comments of a sexual nature, assault and battery, and other employment related sexual harassment, in specific:
a. In June 2017, Plaintiff requested time off to get a breast augmentation surgery. Defendant UNDERWOOD told Plaintiff that the doctor she was going to was not a good choice due to the fact that the same doctor botched Defendant UNDERWOOD's wife breast reduction surgery. Defendant UNDERWOOD sent Plaintiff photos of his wife's breasts and Defendant UNDERWOOD told Plaintiff he would need to see before and after photos of Plaintiffs breasts;
b. In October 2017, Defendant UNDERWOOD asked Plaintiff how her breasts were healing and that he still needed to see before and after photos of Plaintiffs breasts. UNDERWOOD said, "It can't be that bad. You seen … now let's see yours." Plaintiff ended up showing UNDERWOOD the pictures of her breasts fearing that if she did not, Plaintiff would be retaliated against or lose her job;
c. In April 2018, UNDERWOOD asked Plaintiff for help finding an email on his computer. When Plaintiff went to UNDERWOOD's computer, UNDERWOOD scooted back in his office chair to make room for Plaintiff in front of him. When Plaintiff was looking at UNDERWOOD's computer, UNDERWOOD placed his hands on Plaintiffs waist and said in a playful manner: "You can sit down if you need to while you're looking" and pulled Plaintiff down on his lap. UNDERWOOD then started touching Plaintiffs private area on her clothes and was rubbing it back and forth asking me, "Right there?" After this incident, UNDERWOOD told Plaintiff "You must promise me that if things ever get really ugly between the both of us, you will not say a word about this.";
d. After the April, 2018 sexual assault, Defendant UNDERWOOD would tell Plaintiff things like: "You don't pay attention to me anymore." making a sad face, or would say things to try and get Plaintiffs attention like: "Something is wrong with my computer again.";
e. In June 2018, Defendant UNDERWOOD wanted to take Plaintiff to a restaurant to celebrate her birthday and made reservations at Mariposa at Neiman Marcus. When Plaintiff and Defendant UNDERWOOD were in the elevator, Defendant turned to Plaintiff and said: "Ooh, we have the elevators to ourselves" while placing his hand on Plaintiffs waist;
f. On September 20,2018, UNDERWOOD asked Plaintiff what color bra and panties she was wearing and that he wanted to see them. Plaintiff told Defendant UNDERWOOD: "No!" and that someone could see. UNDERWOOD's response was: "Stand in the comer of the office and show me there" as he pointed to a blind spot of his office. Afraid to tell UNDERWOOD no again, Plaintiff went to the comer and showed UNDERWOOD her bra and panties;
g. In February 2020, Plaintiff requested overtime from Defendant UNDERWOOD, and UNDERWOOD answered "Maybe ... depends ... what do I get?"; and,
h. In December 2020, Plaintiff was menstruating and had an accident on her long pants. Plaintiff changed into shorts and when UNDERWOOD saw Plaintiff in the shorts, he said to Plaintiff: "Nice Legs!" and "I'm going to have to make this part of your dress code," verbally sexually harassing Plaintiff.
7. In January 2019, Plaintiff told Defendant UNDERWOOD the sexual harassment and assaults needed to stop because Plaintiff was soon to be married.
8. On April 12, 2021, Plaintiff reported the sexual harassment and assaults to Defendants, and on April 13, 2021, UNDERWOOD became aware of Plaintiffs reporting.
9. In 2021, Plaintiff reported the sexual harassment to the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Defendants retaliated against Plaintiff for the reporting from April 12, 2021 through July of 2021.
10. After Plaintiffs reporting of the sexual harassment and assault by UNDERWOOD, Plaintiff was retaliated against by UNDERWOOD and subjected to unequal terms and conditions of employment, which included:
a. Verbal harassment, supervised in an abusive way, micromanaged; and,
b. In addition to other activities, after Plaintiff reported to her Union Agent, UNDERWOOD added extra work on Plaintiff….
Ed Underwood did not respond to a request for comment from Hawai’i Free Press.
Hawaii News Now reports Deputy Attorney General Miranda Steed said in a statement that: “The plaintiff agreed that the settlement should not be construed as an admission of wrongdoing, and the defendants deny all claims and allegations. The parties settled the lawsuit for substantially less than what it would have cost for the State to defend the lawsuit and agreed on all terms to their mutual satisfaction.”
And, according to HNN, DNLR issued this statement: “DLNR is aware of the lawsuit that was mutually settled. As this matter relates to a personnel issue we can’t comment further. DLNR notes that a settlement is not indicative of an admission of liability but rather a mutual agreement for the benefit of all parties involved.”
ATG NEWS RELEASE: DEPARTMENT OF LAND AND NATURAL RESOURCES SETTLES SUIT REGARDING BOATING ADMINISTRATOR FOR $45,000
News Release from Hawaii AG, Mar 31, 2023
HONOLULU, HI – The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) settled all claims arising from a lawsuit against DLNR and Boating Administrator Edward Underwood for a one-time payment of $45,000. The lawsuit, 1CCV-22-0000992, has been dismissed with prejudice pursuant to the settlement.
DLNR initiated an internal investigation in July 2021 by appointing an independent third-party investigator, the Honolulu employment law firm Marr Jones & Wang. Upon completing the investigation, the third-party investigator, determined that the Plaintiff’s allegations had not been corroborated.
The defendants obtained authority to settle the case in November 2022 during the prior administration.
Pursuant to the settlement agreement, Plaintiff agreed that the settlement is not to be deemed or construed as an admission of liability or wrongdoing and that all allegations were denied by DLNR and Mr. Underwood. All terms were mutually agreed to by the parties, who were represented by counsel.
Deputy Attorney General Miranda Steed, who represented Mr. Underwood in the litigation, states:
“Mr. Underwood has always denied the allegations, and the settlement by its terms is not an admission of wrongdoing. The settlement was made early in the proceedings in the best interest of the State’s financial and human resources, and the parties agreed that the settlement was to avoid further expense and those risks inherent in all litigation.”
The Department of the Attorney General will not comment on any personnel matters and refers all further questions to DLNR.
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April, 2023: Hawaii County Mayor Reminds us of DOBOR ‘Retaliation, Shenanigans’
Feb, 2017: Corruption: DOBOR Boss Fails in Effort to retaliate Against Hawaii County Prosecutor
SA: Sexual harassment case settled with Division of Boating’s head