Today, Assistant Counsel Ria Tabacco Mar testified at a public hearing before the DC Council’s Committee on Economic Development in support of a Proposed Resolution calling on the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) to adopt a fair and nondiscriminatory background screening policy.

Under its existing criminal records policy, WMATA needlessly excludes many qualified job applicants based on prior conduct that is not related to the job at issue or occurred long ago – in some cases, twenty or thirty years in the past.  WMATA’s use of criminal background information unfairly and disproportionately limits employment opportunity for African Americans and other people of color and likely violates federal and local antidiscrimination laws, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

“We firmly believe that WMATA can adopt a background screening policy that is fair and nondiscriminatory and that protects public property and safety,” Ms. Tabacco Mar testified today.  WMATA should “give job applicants the opportunity to explain why they are qualified despite the past criminal offense,” because, for example, the conduct occurred a long time ago and the candidate has related work experience that is more recent.

The Proposed Resolution acknowledges LDF’s role representing workers who were unfairly denied a job at WMATA or one of its contractors in administrative proceedings before the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

A copy of Ms. Tabacco Mar’s testimony can be found here.

Click here to learn more about LDF’s work to reform WMATA’s criminal records policy.