Nawiliwili diving company accused of not paying its worker by Joan R. Price | Posted on May 3, 2022May 8, 2022 NAWILIWILI — The logo that Dustin Uhrig designed for Epic Diving Adventures is still present on the company’s Facebook page. More than three months after designing the image, he says he still hasn’t been paid for his work. He also wasn’t paid for the kayak tours he led, or the business cards he designed, or the social media marketing he did while employed. in the Nawiliwili-based company in December 2021. “It’s a lot of hours I’ve spent doing this stuff, from tours to business development to media,” Uhrig said. “I received no compensation for any of this.” Epic Diving Adventures owner Shannon Montalvo admitted Uhrig worked for her and didn’t dispute that she didn’t pay him, but said he was employed as an independent contractor. and did not provide him with an invoice. Uhrig says he was hired under the impression that he would receive a salary or hourly wage, and that he provided proof of his hours. Uhrig, who has another job as a guide with Outfitters Kaua’i, responded to a job posting from Epic Diving Adventures for an overnight kayak guide last November, hoping to take additional work at part-time. During the job interview, Montalvo hired him into an expanded role, doing social media, IT work and design in a position that Uhrig said would be salaried. Uhrig’s mother and girlfriend confirm his assessment of the situation. His mother Judy Uhrig was vacationing in Kaua’i at the time and met Montalvo after the interview. “She hired him on the spot,” Judy Uhrig said. “It seemed like a very positive situation at the time. I haven’t heard of any independent contractor situation. That’s not really what he does. He thought he was going to find a job. After starting his role at Epic Diving, Uhrig noticed red flags in the workplace. Uhrig said Montalvo would get mad at him and another worker for not selling places at a keiki camp he says the company was not ready to accommodate. “She had no way to move people, no permits, no food lined up for people,” Uhrig said. “If we had started taking in children, it would have been a huge responsibility. It was sketchy, and she was urging us to do it. The state Department of Lands and Natural Resources requires all operators of commercial vessels and water sports equipment to obtain commercial use permits. DNLR’s Boating and Ocean Recreation Division has reported that Epic Diving Adventures does not have a valid commercial use permit. DOBOR said the company informed them they were acting as a booking agent for Sea Sport Divers rather than an independent commercial operator. Under this classification, DLNR said they would not be allowed to run guided kayak tours and that “tours offered by the company would be considered illegal commercial activity”. The DNLR said that while he “could act as a concierge (or) booking agent for a legitimate business with a commercial use permit”, “he also would not have the ability to hire any independently”. Uhrig also said he had been instructed by Montalvo to run several kayak tours without a license, although he was unsure if the tours had been for profit or not. Montalvo said in April that the keiki camp had not materialized and declined to answer further questions about clearances. Almost 50 hours and no pay Due to permission issues and a disagreement over a social media post, Uhrig quit his job in late December. At this point, Uhrig had been working for almost a month and had yet to receive payment. Texts between the pair show Montalvo indicating that Uhrig would be paid via Zelle or Venmo, and show Uhrig providing his Venmo information along with a list of his hours and services provided. He estimated that the total wages owed to him were at least $960 for 50 hours of work. Montalvo texted her saying the times were “a bit off,” though she didn’t elaborate or explain further. Other messages showed Montalvo repeatedly saying that Uhrig would soon be paid, and Uhrig replying that he had not received any payment. “I have no information to pay him an hourly wage or salary of any kind,” Montalvo said in a phone interview, reporting that Uhrig never filed any paperwork. Uhrig said he was not asked for any payment information other than his Venmo account. Montalvo argued that if Uhrig provides a more formal invoice, she will compensate him, but not for the full amount he requested. “I’m ready to pay him for 15 hours,” Montalvo said. “The IT guys I show this to tell me it wouldn’t even take 20 minutes. I do not care. I just want this to end. During the interview, Montalvo abruptly hung up and did not answer any further calls. The situation could be an example of wage theft, a broad category that simply includes not paying workers, paying less than minimum wage, not paying overtime, not allowing breaks, ‘demanding work after hours or taking tips from workers. A study by the Economic Policy Institute shows that the US Department of Labor recovered more than $3 billion in stolen wages between 2017 and 2020. The problem is probably much bigger, with another study by EPI estimating that workers across the country lose $15 billion a year from minimum wage violations alone, more than the total of all the money stolen during of physical burglaries in the United States combined. ••• Guthrie Scrimgeour, journalist, can be reached at 647-0329 or email@example.com.