ACLU of Hawai'i Victorious as Federal Court Strikes Down Pre-Employment Residency Requirement
June 22, 2006
HONOLULU - The American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii (ACLU) announced today that federal court Judge David A. Ezra has invalidated the Hawaii pre-employment residency requirement for government jobs finding the law unconstitutional - in violation of the fundamental right to travel. The ACLU and the law firm Davis Levin Livingston Grande originally filed the lawsuit in 2005 to stop enforcement of Section 78- 1(c) of the Hawaii Revised Statutes, which barred out-of-state residents from applying for government jobs. Judge Ezra's ruling affects all counties statewide.
There are currently around 450 vacant positions at the state and local level. "Our government is notfunctioning at 100 percent," noted Lois K. Perrin, Legal Director of the ACLU of Hawaii. "It makes nosense to keep well-qualified people from even applying for jobs when the state is hurting from long-standing vacancies for needed positions and when residency exceptions are routinely made for jobs that the government wants filled. As the Court found, this baseless discrimination cannot be tolerated." Many of the open positions are at correctional facilities, hospitals and agencies providing critical public services - places that can least afford to be chronically understaffed.
Lydia Hill, an ACLU plaintiff and government administrator from Massachusetts stated, "I am delighted that the federal court has made this decision. There is now no lawful reason as to why Hawaii cannot tap into the governmental expertise and experience of those of us who have learned how to effectively and successfully administer municipalities on the mainland."
"With the abolishment of the pre-employment residency requirement, Hawaii's employers can now welcome non-resident job applicants with the same Aloha Spirit it bestows to resident job applicants," added Steven Annarelli, ACLU plaintiff and investigator for the state of New Jersey.Cooperating attorney Anne L. Williams agreed. "This was a bad law inconsistent with Hawaii's uniqueculture and an obstacle to its ability to benefit from and compete in the global economy."
Enacted in 1978, the residency requirement was Hawaii's third attempt to restrict migration after two previous versions were found unconstitutional. Notably, in 1977 the City and County of Honolulu opposed a prior version of the statute that imposed a one-year waiting period to be eligible to apply for government positions.
The mission of the ACLU and its Hawaii affiliate is to protect the fundamental freedoms contained in the state and federalconstitutions through litigation, legislative and public education programs statewide. The ACLU is funded primarily through private donations and provides its service at no cost to the public. The ACLU does not accept any government funds.
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