Tuesday, June 02, 2020
Hawai'i Free Press

Current Articles | Archives

Saturday, March 24, 2012
Lawsuits, Workers Comp Claims Detail Violence, Retaliation at State DoT
By Selected News Articles @ 4:17 PM :: 6576 Views :: Ethics, Hawaii State Government, Labor

Hawaii Department of Transportation employees push for law against workplace bullying and violence

by Clayton C. Ikei

Honolulu, HI, March 19, 2012: Hawaii Department of Transportation employees Donna Jinbo and Jennie Wolfe reached a settlement agreement on March 1, 2012 (Civil No. 10-1-1029-05 RAN) for a violation of the Whistleblowers Act by their employer after reporting that they endured years of workplace bullying by their supervisor.

In the settlement, they each were awarded $30,000, subject to approval by the Legislature. Also, their former supervisor, who was named as a defendant in their complaint, would no longer be allowed to supervise or work with them as long as they remain employed by the DOT Airports Division. Each party is also responsible for their own attorney’s fees and costs, which means taxpayers’ pay for the cost of the defense.

While this agreement may have “settled” workplace environment issues for Jinbo and Wolfe, during the process these DOT employees discovered first-hand how ineffective a Workplace Violence Policy can be if there is no law in place to back up the policy.

Jinbo and Wolfe are now lobbying the Hawaii State Legislature to pass Senate Bill 2487 on workplace violence to provide legal recourse for a public employee who has been victimized by another public employee. Passage of the law would ensure that all public workers who are victims of workplace violence would have the right to file a direct claim against their employer.

The Senate Judiciary and Labor (JDL) Committee passed the bill this session as SB2487 SD1, but the Senate Ways and Means (WAM) Committee, chaired by Sen. David Ige, deferred the bill on February 28.

After hearing SB2487 SD1, the JDL committee report on Feb. 17, 2012, stated the following: “Existing occupational safety and health laws obligate employers to provide a safe work environment. However, these laws do not provide for a safe work environment free from abusive conduct from employees. This measure provides protection against abusive conduct in the workplace as well as cause of action and remedies.”

Many examples of other employee complaints were listed in testimony submitted to WAM on Feb. 28, 2012, by Elizabeth-Ann Kahalaopuna Motoyama, former Equal Employment Officer for the state of Hawaii Department of Transportation (HDOT). She said that there were a total of seven employment-based lawsuits against HDOT presently filed in state or federal court, at various stages of litigation, some involving workplace violence in one form or another. Also, there are Workers’ Compensation claims filed as a result of workplace violence at different stages of that process.

Motoyama testified: “It is important that if nothing else, this committee will see the potential for liability if these acts of abuse and violence against state of Hawaii employees are not defined as prohibited and deterred by the existence of a law that prohibits such abhorrent practices. The cost of enforcement will be much less than the payout of damages.”

In her testimony to the WAM committee, Jinbo agreed, saying that the cost of litigation, now and in the future “is much larger than the cost of implementing a program and a law that will back the program.”

Wolfe’s testimony to WAM was also in agreement: “I urge the committee to pass this bill, which will put employers on notice that workplace violence; bullying and verbal harassment can no longer be tolerated and will be dealt with decisively. The state will also save taxpayers’ dollars because victims will no longer have to resort to a lawsuit for relief.”

A 2007 Zogby poll revealed that 49 percent of American workers have been subjected to workplace violence. In the case of Jinbo and Wolfe, the supervisor was temporarily transferred out of the office when restraining orders were originally filed in 2008, but when DOT directed the supervisor to be placed back in her former workplace supervising Jinbo and Wolfe, the department offered them a demotion if they felt they could not work under their former supervisor’s supervision. Jinbo and Wolfe chose to go out on leave. The plaintiffs then filed a lawsuit. In December 2010, Circuit Judge Rhonda Nishimura granted a preliminary injunction ordering DOT to separate Jinbo and Wolfe from their former supervisor. The case was settled, prior to trial and DOT agreed to pay $30,000 per client, subject to legislative approval, and that their former supervisor would never supervise or work in the same locale as Jinbo or Wolfe.

Although SB2487 SD1 has been deferred at this time, the public is encouraged to contact their Senators and Representatives and ask them to reconsider giving this measure another hearing this session.


LINK: SB2487 SD1


TEXT "follow HawaiiFreePress" to 40404

Register to Vote


808 Silent Majority

808 State Update AM940


ACA Signups Hawaii



Alliance Defending Freedom

Aloha Life Advocates

Aloha Pregnancy Care Center

American Council of Trustees and Alumni

American Mothers of Hawaii



Antonio Gramsci Reading List

A Place for Women in Waipio

Astronomy Hawaii

Audit The Rail

Ballotpedia Hawaii

Better Hawaii 

Blaisdell Memorial Project

Broken Trust 

Build More Hawaiian Homes Working Group

CAFR Hawaii

Castaway Conservative

Children's Alliance Hawaii

Children's Rights Institute


Christian Homeschoolers of Hawaii

Citizens for Recall

Cliff Slater's Second Opinion

Coffee Break

CSIS Pacific Forum

DAR Hawaii


DVids Hawaii

E Hana Kakou Kelii Akina

E Māua Ola i Moku o Keawe

Farmers For Choice Hawaii


Fix Oahu!

Follow the Money Hawaii

Frank in Hawaii

Front Page Magazine

Frontline: The Fixers

Genetic Literacy Project

Get Off Your Butts!

God, Freedom, America

Grassroot Institute


Hawaii Aganst Assisted Suicide

Hawaii Aquarium Fish Report

Hawaii Aviation Preservation Society

Hawaii Catholic TV

Hawaii Christian Coalition

Hawaii Cigar Association

Hawaii Coalition Against Legalized Gambling

Hawaii ConCon Info

Hawaii Credit Union Watch

Hawaii Crime Victims' Rights

Hawaii Crop Improvement Association

Hawaii Debt Clock

Hawaii Defending Marriage

Hawaii Defense Foundation

Hawaii Families for Educational Choice

Hawaii Family Advocates

Hawaii Family Forum

Hawaii Farmers and Ranchers United

Hawaii Farmer's Daughter

Hawaii Federalist Society

Hawaii Federation of Republican Women

Hawaii Firearm Community

Hawaii Fishermen's Alliance

Hawaii Future Project

Hawaii Gathering of Eagles

Hawaii History Blog

Hawaii Homeschool Association

Hawaii Jihadi Trial

Hawaii March for Life

Hawaii Meth Project

Hawaii's Partnership for Appropriate & Compassionate Care

Hawaii Public Charter School Network

Hawaii Rifle Association

Hawaii Right to Life -- Big Island

Hawaii Right to Life -- Oahu

Hawaii Shield Law Coalition

Hawaii Shippers Council

Hawaii Smokers Alliance

Hawaii State Data Lab

Hawaii Together

Heritage Foundation

HI Coalition Against Legalized Gambling



Hiram Fong Papers

Homeschool Legal Defense Hawaii

Honolulu Homeless Crisis

Honolulu Navy League

Honolulu Traffic

Horns of Jericho Blog

House Minority Blog

House Republican Caucus YouTube


Hump Day Report

I Vote Hawaii

If Hawaii News

Imua TMT

Inouye-Kwock, NYT 1992

Inside the Nature Conservancy

Inverse Condemnation

Investigative Project on Terrorism

Iowa Meets Maui

Jackson v Abercrombie

Jihad Watch

July 4 in Hawaii

Kahle v New Hope

Kakaako Cares

Kau TEA Party

Kauai Co GOP

Keep Hawaii's Heroes


Land and Power in Hawaii

Legislative Committee Analysis Tool

Lessons in Firearm Education

Lingle Years

Malulani Foundation

Managed Care Matters -- Hawaii

Malama Pregnancy Center of Maui

Mauna Kea Recreational Users Group


Middle East Forum--The Legal Project

Mililani Conservatives for Change

Military Home Educators' Network Oahu

Missile Defense Advocacy

MIS Veterans Hawaii

Muslim Brotherhood in America

NAMI Hawaii



National Christian Foundation Hawaii

National Parents Org Hawaii

National Wind Watch

New Zeal

NFIB Hawaii News

No GMO Means No Aloha

Northwest Economic Policy Seminar

Not Dead Yet, Hawaii

Now What I Really Think

NRA-ILA Hawaii

Oahu Alternative Transport

ObamaCare Abortion Hawaii


OHA Lies

Opt Out Today


Pacific Aviation Museum

Patients Rights Council Hawaii

PEACE Hawaii

People vs Machine

Pritchett Cartoons 

Pro-GMO Hawaii



Rental by Owner Awareness Assn

Republican Party -- Hawaii State

Research Institute for Hawaii USA

Rick Hamada Show

RJ Rummel

Robotics Organizing Committee

Save Dillingham Airfield

School Choice in Hawaii


SIFE Remington

SIFE W. Oahu 

Sink the Jones Act

Smart About Marijuana--Hawaii

St Marianne Cope

State Budget Solutions Hawaii

State Policy Network

Statehood for Guam

Tax Foundation of Hawaii

The Harriet Tubman Agenda

The Long War Journal

The Real Hanabusa

Time Out Honolulu

Trustee Akina KWO Columns

Truth About Trade & Technology - Hawaii

UCC Truths

Union Members Know Your Rights

US Tax Foundation Hawaii Info

Valor in the Pacific

VAREP Honolulu


West Maui Taxpayers Association

What Natalie Thinks

Whole Life Hawaii