Hawaii Employee Says Firing Followed Safety Complaint

June 17, 2013

An employee of a Maui nonprofit corporation that provides housing for low-income and elderly people says she was terminated because she pushed for safe handling of asbestos.

Robyne Nishida Nakao tells the Honolulu Star-Advertiser she was terminated as deputy executive director for Hale Mahaolu after a dispute about how asbestos in ceiling and floor tiles should be handled at the corporation’s Lahaina Surf complex.

Nishida Nakao says maintenance employees rather than certified contractors collected samples and performed renovations.

Hale Mahaolu executive director Roy Katsuda says there was no retaliation against Nishida Nakao. He also says corrections to housing units were made properly.

Department of Labor and Industrial Relations spokesman Bill Kunstman says the state is looking into asbestos allegations.

Nishida Nakao has hired a lawyer to address personnel issues.

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