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Sunday, January 26, 2020
Report: HIOSH has the Ethics of a Used Car Salesman
By News Release @ 5:07 AM :: 1261 Views :: Ethics

Hawai'i Occupational Safety and Health Division, Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, Occupational Health Branch Manager's Alleged Violations of Fair Treatment Law

From Hawaii State Ethics Commission, January 22, 2020 (excerpts)

Respondent Tin Shing Chao, at all times relevant herein, was employed by OUR, a state agency, as the Occupational Health Branch Manager for HIOSH….

EHSs must travel to worksites throughout Hawai'i to conduct inspections, and must be able to arrive within one hour of the assignment per HIOSH policy. While there is no requirement for an EHS to own her/his own vehicle under the HIOSH position description ("PO") for EHSs, in practice, employees conducting inspections typically have access to a personal vehicle upon passing probation. The PO further states that "access to a vehicle is preferred."

In late 2016 and early 2017, Respondent Chao was supervising two probationary EHSs who did not own personal vehicles. Respondent Chao informed both employees that they were required to have personal vehicles to perform their jobs as EHSs, per his understanding of the job requirements and customary practice within HIOSH, and the EHSs were therefore under the impression that ownership of a personal vehicle was required if they (the subordinates) wished to continue working for HIOSH.

Mr. Chao is acquainted with Tao "Kevin" Qiu, the owner and manager of AutoBiz, which is a pre-owned automobile dealership. Mr. Chao is acquainted with Mr. Qiu through Mr. Qiu's parents.

Around February 2017, Respondent Chao recommended AutoBiz to a subordinate, probationary EHS. Respondent Chao then drove this employee to AutoBiz, in Respondent Chao's personal car, during the work day;  Respondent Chao claims that this trip to AutoBiz occurred after an on-site inspection, during Respondent Chao's (and the subordinate employee's)  lunch hour. The subordinate employee alleges that Respondent Chao was present while the employee was looking at and negotiating the purchase of a vehicle from AutoBiz, including while the dealership ran the employee's credit; that Respondent Chao pressured the employee to purchase a car from AutoBiz; and that Respondent Chao pressured the employee to purchase a more expensive vehicle than the employee could afford. Respondent Chao disputes the allegation that he pressured the employee to purchase a car from AutoBiz or that he pressured the employee to purchase a more expensive car from AutoBiz. The subordinate employee further alleges that the employee left HIOSH because the employee could not make the payments on this car on the employee's HIOSH salary.

Around May 2017, Respondent Chao recommended AutoBiz to a second subordinate, probationary EHS. Again, Respondent Chao drove this employee to AutoBiz, in Respondent Chao's personal car, during the work day; Respondent Chao claims that this trip to AutoBiz occurred after an onsite inspection, during Respondent Chao's (and the subordinate employee's) lunch hour. This second subordinate employee likewise alleges that Respondent Chao was present while the employee was looking at and negotiating the purchase of a vehicle from AutoBiz, and that Respondent Chao pressured the employee to purchase a car from AutoBiz. Again, Respondent Chao disputes the allegation that he pressured the employee to purchase a car from AutoBiz….

read … Full Report  

SA: State employee fined for pushing workers to buy cars from friend

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