Job posting

Maui job posting seeking mainlanders rather than locals sparks uproar on Twitter

November 29, 2021

When Keola Whittaker, a lawyer from Maui, read a job posting for a case manager in Wailuku, he was disappointed.

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“I prefer to hire mainlanders who have moved to Maui,” read the job posting from a personal injury law firm in Maui.

the the ad went up on Craigslist in mid-November, and sparked a strong social media backlash on Wednesday after Whittaker posted it on Twitter.

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“Yuck.” “Raw.” “Is it even legal?” Twitter users in Hawaii responded in chorus.

Whittaker, from Oahu, said he didn’t understand the preference in part because local applicants might have more knowledge about Hawaii’s justice system than foreigners.

“What makes someone who is transplanted from the continent better?” ” he said. “People who grew up here and live in Hawaii sometimes have a hard time finding a job, and they run into these kinds of issues, whether it’s in a job posting or not.”

Johnny Brown, a Texas litigator who published the ad, said he enjoys living in Hawaii, but finding qualified people in Maui is difficult because there is a small pool of applicants and it is is an expensive place to live.

“I would love to hire people from the island, but it seems I never find them on Maui,” he said.

He said he recently hired a paralegal from California and that although he hired local people, most of his current employees are from the mainland, despite having lived in Hawaii for a decade.

“It’s not like I’m against the culture one way or another, but I guess, I guess they call it the Protestant work ethic, to be blunt about it. “, did he declare. “I work 60 hours a week and can’t find anyone to follow me.”

This job posting from a Maui law firm drew criticism for its explicit preference for people who have moved to Hawaii from the mainland.

A Twitter user said she reported the ad as discriminating against Craigslist, but Brown disputed that criticism.

“Discrimination, mind you, is a constitutional issue, it only applies to government,” he said. “As a private businessman, I can hire whoever I want and seek out any talent pool I want.”

But legally, there are protected categories of people against whom employers cannot discriminate.

Bill Hoshijo, executive director of the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission, said the state’s Fair Employment Act “prohibits discrimination in employment based on race, sex, including gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, age, religion, color, ancestry, disability, marital status, arrest and criminal record, decision relating to reproductive health or victim status domestic or sexual violence.

The place where you were born and raised is not one of those legally protected classes.

“The law does not prohibit discrimination based on ‘continental’ or ‘local’ status, except to the extent that discrimination on these grounds could be a pretext or substitute for discrimination based on race or descent,” Hoshijo said. “Sometimes even policies and practices that appear neutral and are not intended to discriminate can have a discriminatory and disparate impact on a protected group.”

According to U.S. Census data, people who identify as white alone make up 30.1% of Maui County’s population, compared to 60.1% of the United States as a whole. People who identify as being from Hawaii or another Pacific Islander ethnicity alone make up 10.6% of Maui County’s population, compared to just 0.2% of the population nationwide. national.

Brown pointed out that his wording had nothing to do with race and was rather a marketing decision meant to get mainlanders to apply.

“I don’t care your race, your gender, your sexuality, your age,” he said. “The point is, there are a lot of qualified people in California.”

Linda Krieger, a law professor at the University of Hawaii Manoa, said the job offer struck her as reckless and unfair, but not necessarily illegal.

“It’s based on inaccurate stereotypes of how hard people work in Hawaii,” she said.

Krieger, who is a member of the state’s Civil Rights Commission, previously headed the law school’s Ulu Lehua scholarship program, which supports law students from a variety of backgrounds.

“We have very, very highly qualified and very good new lawyers coming out of Richardson,” she said, referring to the William S. Richardson School of Law. She added that a line stating that mainlanders are preferred would likely discourage local people from applying.

Brown made it clear he didn’t mean people in Hawaii don’t have a work ethic and said a lot of people are in Maui to escape a pressure cooker life.

“I’m just one of those Alpha wired men from Texas federal courts and it’s a hectic life and I’m always wired that way and I want to litigate like that so I’m looking for like-minded people,” Brown noted.

He said he interviewed someone from Hawaii on Wednesday and was likely going to hire him, so he’s considering local candidates.

“I’m just as free to look to hire someone from Texas or California as I’m from Hawaii,” he said.

Civil Beat coverage of Maui County is funded in part by a grant from the Nuestro Futuro Foundation.

Honolulu Civil Beat is dedicated to being a group of informed citizens, all striving to make Hawaii a better place to live. We achieve this through investigative and surveillance journalism, in-depth corporate reporting, analysis and commentary that gives readers a holistic view of issues important to our community.

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