Discrimination against foreign-born residents was alleged when translation of some exams was discontinued.
The Hawaii Department of Transportation and the nonprofit Faith Action for Community Equity (FACE) said Friday that a lawsuit was settled regarding the translation of driver’s examinations for vehicle licenses.
United States District Court Judge Susan Oki Mollway approved the settlement.
In 2013, FACE said it was concerned that speakers of Marshallese, Chuukese and Ilocano were being disenfranchised because exams were not available in those languages.
Translations of the driver’s test began in 2001, but they were later suspended after new state laws led to changes in the test. The DOT did, however, provide translations into eight other languages including Japanese and Tagalog.
FACE filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging that the DOT discriminated against foreign-born residents of Hawaii “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,” according to a joint press release.
For its part, the DOT says it consistently disputed that there was “any discriminatory motive” involved in decision-making about the translated exams. In a statement, DOT Director Ford Fuchigami said his department is committed “to serving all of Hawaii’s residents regardless of who they are or where they are from.”
The DOT currently offers the examination in 13 languages, said to make Hawaii the only state under 2 million people to offer the exam in more than 10 languages, including Hawaiian.
FACE said it is pleased with the outcome of the case.