The Hawaii Department of Transportation (HDOT) and Faith Action for Community Equity (FACE), a non-profit organization, jointly announce that the parties settled a lawsuit yesterday regarding the translation of driver’s examinations required for Hawaii residents to obtain a license.
FACE filed a lawsuit in federal court in September 2013, alleging HDOT discriminated against foreign-born residents of Hawai’i by not offering a translated exam for a period of more than five years after previously existing translations were removed from service when additional questions needed to be added to the exam.
Throughout the case, and even with the settlement, HDOT disputed that there was any discriminatory motive involved in decision-making about the translated exams. “HDOT and our employees have always been committed to serving all of Hawaiʻi’s residents regardless of who they are or where they are from,” said HDOT Director Ford Fuchigami. HDOT currently offers the examination in thirteen languages, making Hawaii the only U.S. State with fewer than two million people to offer the exam in more than ten languages and the only state to offer the exam in a native language, Hawaiian. “We are proud of our current language access program and are dedicated to a positive and proactive approach to language access and will continue to look at additional ways to ensure that those with limited English skills can safely drive on our roads.”
FACE is pleased with the outcome and the commitment to keeping translations in place over the long-term. “This resolution is an answer to our prayers,” said FACE organizer reverend Tasha Kama, a minister at Christian Ministry Church in Wailuku. “It takes all of our families-local and immigrant-to make Hawaii work. The more languages and cultures included in our policies, the stronger we are as a state. We appreciate the opportunity to work closely with the Hawaii DOT to further language access for all our people.”
“HDOT is committed to ensuring all drivers have the knowledge and skills to drive safely on Hawaii’s roads,” said Director Fuchigami.
United States District Court Judge Susan Oki Mollway approved the settlement.