Honolulu Star-Bulletin - Kokua Line

Kokua Line

By June Watanabe

Thursday, July 29, 1999

Health club policy may
be discriminatory

Question: The health club I belong to allows women to use the main workout area any time, while men can only use it at certain times. Isn't that sex discrimination and isn't there a law against that?

Answer: There's a law against sex discrimination. Whether the situation you describe is sex discrimination in a place of public accommodation is something the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission would determine.

Executive Director William Hoshijo recommends filing a complaint with his office. Call 586-8636. There is no charge to file the complaint or for the investigation.

The law says something is an unfair, discriminatory and prohibited practice if it denies or attempts to deny "a person the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages and accommodations of a place of public accommodation on the basis of race, sex, color, religion, ancestry or disability," Hoshijo said.

With regard to sex discrimination, legal exceptions are made for privacy, such as involving locker room facilities, he noted.

"In a case where you have a small health club that provides special hours for men and women to use a facility because of privacy interests and it's not conducive to have both there at the same time, then, it would depend on the facts -- whether they're being offered equal enjoyment of the facilities," he said.

When asked if a health club is considered a place of public accommodation, Hoshijo said that by offering memberships and giving passes, health clubs would appear to fall under the "fairly broad" legal definition of a place of public accommodation.

That definition refers to "a business, accommodation, refreshment, entertainment, recreation or transportation facility of any kind whose goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages or accommodations are extended, offered, sold or otherwise made available to the general public as customers, clients or visitors."

FYI, in fiscal year 1997-98, of 91 new cases of alleged discrimination in a place of public accommodation, seven were based on sex discrimination.

Cases are confidential, Hoshijo said. However, if there is a settlement, the parties involved can agree to release information.

In certain notorious or controversial cases, public notification of a settlement sometimes is required.

Speaking generally about various kinds of cases, Hoshijo said his office has been "pretty successful" in getting respondents to change policy if there is an "overt discriminatory policy, either pricing or other discriminatory treatment."

Q: I live in Moanalua Gardens. There are two streams -- the Diamond Head-side stream is known as Manaiki. It merges with an Ewa stream and together they're known as Manaiki. What is the Ewa stream's name?

A: According to a map in the Atlas of Hawaii, Manaiki merges with Moanalua Stream.


To the kind staffer at the Beretania Street Safeway who ran halfway across the parking lot to give me my passport, which I had forgotten on the checkout counter. -- No name


To parents who were looking at pets. Their son dropped a little puppy dog from his shoulder and they didn't even offer to pay for the vet bill. -- No name

Need help with problems? Call Kokua Line at 525-8686,
fax 525-6711, or write to P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu 96802.
Email to kokualine@starbulletin.com

E-mail to City Desk

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