Honolulu Star-Bulletin - Kokua Line

Kokua Line

By June Watanabe

Friday, August 13, 1999

Background checks
illegal if selective

Question: I was recently hired for a job. The process entailed a credit check, a criminal background check and a drug-testing check. What is the state law on these things? Why is a credit check needed for employment?

Answer: Without knowing the details, Patrick Stanley, spokesman for the state Labor Department, said, "The problem here would be civil rights."

Are you being treated differently than others? Are only men being given the drug or credit checks? Are only older people or certain ethnic groups being subjected to the checks? If so, this might be something to take to the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission, Stanley said.

"If it's across the board, it may not show up on the radar of any particular violation," he said. However, criminal or court checks can be used only "if there is a bona fide rationale" -- if the employee will be handling money, will be a security guard, etc., he said.

Otherwise, it cannot be used as "a preemployment selector."

On drug testing, "the only constraint is that if a person is in a drug or alcohol treatment program, that can't be used against him because that's considered a disability. That would come under the ADA -- the Americans with Disabilities Act," Stanley said. "The employer is supposed to make a reasonable accommodation _ up to a point where it becomes onerous to an employer."

On the issue of credit checks, Stanley surmised, "The employer must have a reason," but there is no law prohibiting the employer from asking for that.

Q: Whatever happened to the 22-year-old driver who killed a 90-year-old woman on the Pali Highway? How did he get away with just 50 hours of community service in the first case anyway?

A: Police are wrapping up their investigation into the death of Anna Hara and preparing to present the case to the prosecutor's office, a spokeswoman said.

Hara died in June after being struck by a car driven by Brandon Tamashiro of Kailua.

In the earlier case you mentioned, Tamashiro was driving a car on Sept. 22, 1994 when it struck and killed 85-year-old Phillip M.C. Kong in a crosswalk on the Pali Highway, not far from where Hara was killed. Tamashiro was 17, a juvenile, at the time, so little information can be obtained about that case.

However, it's known that Tamashiro was sentenced to 50 hours of community service after pleading guilty to third-degree negligent homicide, which is a misdemeanor. That means the accident probably involved inattention and not speed or alcohol, according to earlier reports.

Q: In the 2900 block of Waialae Avenue, the state Department of Transportation put out lots of new signs. But one sign is not visible because of overgrown shower trees. Can you see to it that they get the message?

A: The tree's owners got the message.

The branches that were blocking the sign were trimmed by the owners after the department notified them of the problem, said Kelly Lee Sato, Oahu district maintenance engineer.

In the future, for similar complaints, call 831-6714, he said.


To Aldon Souza of Pearl City for finding my wallet -- with my driver's license, credit cards and cash -- on the road. He wouldn't accept a monetary gift. God bless you and your wife for your aloha spirit. -- Alan Lu/Pearl City

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

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