Hilo workers allege hostile work environment under former Bay Clinic CEO

Updated: Nov. 14, 2019 at 9:31 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - A former employee at the Big Island’s largest community health center says she was retaliated against for blowing the whistle on its former CEO and its board.

She’s said she’s one of dozens of workers who are alleging a hostile work environment at the Bay Clinic.

Diane Kramer, who the administrative assistant for Bay Clinic CEO Harold Wallace, alleges he called women in the office derogatory names.

Her claims are supported by at least one long-time, former board member.

“He would be like: ‘f-ing locals. They’re so stupid,’" said former Bay Clinic board member Lynne Enriques. “As far as our local aloha culture, he had no clue.”

Wallace, who left the clinic in March, is widely credited for turning around the Hilo-based community healthcare organization, which serves more than 22,000 patients a year in East Hawaii — a community facing a severe shortage of healthcare providers.

Wallace could not be reached for comment.

According the the Bay Clinic’s most recent Form 990 filing with the IRS, he earned $315,000 for the year ending June 30, 2017.

He received about $100,000 in severance and bonuses when he left the Bay Clinic in March.

Former Bay Clinic CEO Harold Wallace is credit for turning around the company. But he's also...
Former Bay Clinic CEO Harold Wallace is credit for turning around the company. But he's also accused of creating a hostile work environment.(None)

Kramer, meanwhile, lost her job in a restructuring earlier this year.

“When they came and told me that my position was being eliminated, I was shocked, then disappointed, then humiliated," she said.

The Bay Clinic said Kramer’s departure had nothing to do with her criticism of the clinic and its board.

“Ms. Kramer’s separation … was due to the elimination of her position. (She) was invited to apply to another position at Bay Clinic and did not do so," said current CEO Kimo Alameda.

Kramer sees it differently.

She said she was among the dozens of employees who sent the Bay Clinic’s board an open letter in June, critical of her ex-boss.

It also criticized the Bay Clinic’s board for how it selected Wallace’s successor — Alameda — who was former Big Island Mayor Billy Kenoi’s campaign manager.

The letter said the Alameda was not among the shortlist of six candidates screened by the clinic’s human resources department yet wound up getting the job.

Because the Bay Clinic receives a lot of federal money, Kramer’s attorney said she is a whistleblower and is protected against retaliation.

“You’re basically telling the employees just shut up and do your job and let the directors run organization into the ground," said Kramer’s attorney, Eric Seitz.

Seitz plans to file a lawsuit as early as next week.

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