HONOLULU–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Harmssen LaPointe P.C., The Law Offices of Daniel Feder, & The Law Offices of Sandra Lynch:
Grand Wailea, A Waldorf Astoria Resort, is allegedly attempting to coerce current class members of a pending class action lawsuit (Bolos v. Grand Wailea, A Waldorf-Astoria Resort, Case 1:23-cv-00104) to sign away their valuable legal rights to participate in the lawsuit. The class action lawsuit targets Grand Wailea for engaging in corruption and racketeering and willfully misclassifying close to two hundred Spa workers as independent contractors in order to escape their legal obligations to pay a living wage, provide employment benefits as required by state law (including retirement plans, disability benefits, workers’ compensation coverage, and mandatory health insurance), and make required federal tax contributions. Now, the Hotel is apparently strong-arming the workers and preying upon their significant economic insecurity, made even more pronounced by the devastating Maui wildfires which left many class members without homes, drastically reduced client demand for their services, and took the lives of their families, loved ones, and pets.
Grand Wailea recently informed all class members who currently work for the Hotel that they will be laid off on February 1, 2024 in anticipation of the grand opening of their new Spa called “Kilolani Spa” on February 28, 2024. Rather than simply reclassifying the workers from independent contractors to employees, the Hotel instead is terminating all current Spa workers’ employment contracts and requiring them to apply for jobs at the new Spa. On January 24, 2024, legal counsel for the class members learned that the Grand Wailea was also requiring class members to agree to an immensely prejudicial arbitration agreement as a condition of employment. The new proposed arbitration agreement forces individual arbitration of “past claims” against the Hotel, its ownership, and affiliated corporate entities and would cause the workers irreparable harm by permanently foreclosing their ability to participate in the class action lawsuit. Late last week, Hotel management allegedly began coercing workers via text, telephone, and email to sign off on their new-hire paperwork, including the arbitration agreement. Workers were provided only 24 to 48 hours to accept the job offers and given until 9:00 AM on January 31, 2024 to sign the arbitration agreement.
In response, counsel for the class members immediately requested a meeting with the Hotel’s attorneys to discuss the threat of imminent harm to the workers, but the Hotel’s attorneys did not respond. On Friday, January 26, 2024, Counsel for the class members filed a motion under seal for a temporary restraining order against the Grand Wailea seeking to prevent the Hotel from exercising the newly proposed arbitration agreement against the class members and from requiring class members to sign the arbitration agreement to keep their jobs and livelihoods. A hearing is expected to be held in the coming weeks.
Since the initial filing of the class action lawsuit in February 2023, an additional 118 Spa workers have signed on as named plaintiffs. The unprecedented and remarkably large number of named plaintiffs speaks volumes about the extent to which the Spa workers feel exploited by the Hotel. Counsel for the class will seek leave to amend the complaint to include all workers who have signed on as named plaintiffs to date.
The lawsuit seeks compensatory, treble and punitive damages, penalties, and restitution/disgorgement of ill-gotten gains arising from the corporate and individual Defendants’ willful violations of federal and state wage and hours laws and racketeering activities in furtherance of their fraudulent scheme.
About Harmssen LaPointe P.C. and the Law Offices of Daniel Feder
Harmssen LaPointe P.C. and the Law Offices of Daniel Feder specialize in representing employees in discrimination, harassment, wage and hour, and class-action litigation.
Britt E. Harmssen
Harmssen LaPointe P.C.