ACLU of Hawaii Lauds Federal Court Decision on Statewide Residency Requirement for Jobs

Affiliate: ACLU of Hawaii
February 3, 2006 12:00 am

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Applications for Employment Can Now Be Accepted From Non-residents

HONOLULU —The American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii today announced the end to a requirement that prevented countless numbers of individuals from even applying for government jobs in Hawaii because they were not yet residents.

“The state’s position violated the fundamental right to travel under the Constitution,” said Lois K. Perrin, Legal Director of the ACLU of Hawaii. “Furthermore, it made no sense to keep some people from even applying for jobs when the state was hurting from long-standing vacancies for needed positions and when exceptions were routinely made for jobs that the government wanted filled.”

Yesterday the court granted the ACLU of Hawaii’s request to stop the enforcement of the statewide pre-employment residency requirement. The ruling affects all government positions with the state as well as the City and County of Honolulu. The ACLU of Hawaii hailed the federal court ruling by Judge David Ezra as long overdue.

“ I am pleased that an unfair barrier has been eliminated. Now individuals, like me, have an equal opportunity to be considered for public employment based on our talents,” said ACLU plaintiff Kevin Walsh. Walsh is a Florida resident who was denied the opportunity to apply for several posted jobs with the City and County.

The law, enacted in 1978, was the state’s third attempt to restrict migration to Hawaii. Previous versions of the statute requiring a three-year and one-year period of residency, respectively, were found to be unconstitutional by the Hawaii state and federal courts. Notably, the City and County opposed the passage of the one-year requirement in the Legislature in 1977 and also argued that the law was unconstitutional in 1985 when the State of Hawaii sued to enforce it against then Mayor Frank Fasi’s hiring of John E. Hirten as the Director of Transportation services.

Cooperating Attorney Anne L. Williams, on behalf of Davis Levin Livingston Grande, called the law “inconsistent with Hawaii’s unique Aloha spirit and an obstacle to its ability to benefit from and compete in the global economy.”

Judge Ezra’s ruling on the residency requirement is online at

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