Suit claims Grand Wailea owners avoided pay, benefits for hundreds in ‘fraudulent scheme’
A worker at one of Maui’s largest private employers, Grand Wailea, A Waldorf Astoria Resort, filed a class-action lawsuit Friday alleging owners of the luxury hotel giant misclassified hundreds of spa and salon workers, groundskeepers, facilities maintenance personnel and window washers as independent contractors in a “fraudulent scheme” to avoid pay and benefits at two of its landmark hotels, the Grand Wailea and Beverly Hills Waldorf Astoria.
A spokesperson at Grand Wailea, a Waldorf Astoria Resort, declined to comment Friday.
“We do not comment on pending litigation,” a statement to Maui Now said.
Maui resident and plaintiff Laurie Bolos has been employed for decades as a nail technician for defendant Waldorf-Astoria Management LLC at the Grand Wailea hotel in South Maui.
Bolos, who is represented by attorneys Daniel Feder of California and Sandra Lynch of Oahu, filed a complaint Friday in Hawai’i U.S. District Court alleging that employer Waldorf Astoria violated many federal and state laws in a deliberate attempt to bypass legal obligations to pay workers a minimum wage and overtime.
The complaint also says the employer illegally circumvented making federal income tax contributions toward workers’ Social Security and unemployment insurance, while avoiding mandatory health coverage, temporary disability insurance and workers’ compensation benefits.
“Bolos is believed to be representative of a victimized class of vulnerable workers, including Native Hawaiian and immigrant communities, who have been systematically exploited by Waldorf Astoria and historically reluctant to question their working conditions out of fear of losing their jobs and suffering further economic hardship,” according to her lawyers.
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, the complaint said.
Waldorf Astoria is a luxury brand of Hilton hotels with U.S. and international locations.