Taking advantage of a new law that substantially increases penalties, the Wage Standards Division of the Hawaii State Department of Labor & Industrial Relations (“DLIR”) has issued penalties totaling $767,095 to a construction company remodeling a hotel in Waikiki, Hawaii. The penalties were imposed for a failure to provide Prepaid Health Care, Temporary Disability Insurance (“TDI”), and Workers’ Compensation insurance.

Act 187 of the 2016 Hawaii Legislature significantly increased the penalties for violations of workers’ compensation and temporary disability insurance laws.

Sending an clear message to all Hawaii employers, Hawaii Labor Director Linda Chu Takayama said of the leverage that the increased penalty amounts provide to Hawaii regulators, “We believe that the increase in penalties from $1 per day to $100 for TDI and worker’s compensation from $10 per day to $100 serves as a powerful incentive for employers to provide these coverages instead of just waiting till they are caught.”

The construction industry employer that faces the large penalties is alleged to have misclassified 65 construction workers as independent contractors for purposes of evading its obligation to provide TDI, Prepaid Health Insurance, and Workers’ Compensation Insurance.

The employer’s woes are far from over: The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division, the Hawaii Occupational Safety and Health Division, the Hawaii Unemployment Division, and the Hawaii Department of Commerce & Consumer Affairs are conducting separate investigations and are expected to assess their own penalties.