Fight for fair hiring regulations

Families for Justice as Healing is working on a campaign to address the harsh, punitive proposed hiring regulations that would prevent people with driving and criminal records from working for ride share companies like Uber and Lyft.

The proposed new hiring regulations for ride sharing companies would require an unlimited lookback period for violent felonies, preventing anyone who was in prison for longer than 10 years from driving for Lyft or Uber. People with open cases would also not be able to drive for Lyft or Uber, which feels like a major violation of due process rights. More than 8,000 people have already been fired because these regulations.

We believe that the background screenings done by Uber and Lyft are sufficient, and additional regulations create an undue burden on people who are already struggling to find legal employment. Currently, the staff of FJAH would not be eligible to drive for these ride companies, and members of our families and communities have already been fired.

We joined with our partners to submit written testimony opposing the proposed regulations and demanding that our people with CORIs have access to dignified employment as drivers.

We are also planning to attend the public hearing about this issue on May 23 at 10 am at the State Transportation Building, Transportation Board Room, Second Floor, 10 Park Plaza. If you have been fired from driving or would not be eligible to drive and would like to testify with us please email mhanora@justiceashealing.org.

Read the testimony below: 

Mark D. Marini, Secretary,
Department of Public Utilities,
One South Station, 5th Floor
Boston, Massachusetts 02110

Dear Mr. Marini,

We, the undersigned community, religious, advocacy, and civil rights organizations oppose the new two-part background check required by the Act Regulating Transportation Network Companies, St. 2016, c. 187 (“Act”), Section 4 of the Act established M.G.L. c. 159A½, Transportation Network Companies, and Section 2 of the Act established M.G.L. c. 25, § 23(a).

Prior to the new legislation, Transportation Network Companies already conducted background checks for drivers. The new regulations harm our communities by prohibiting people with criminal or driving records from gainful employment. Specifically, the unlimited look back period creates unnecessary, unfair, and discriminatory barriers between people with CORIs and legal, dignified employment. These regulations disproportionately impact people of color who already experience racial bias in the criminal punishment system. At a time when the Commonwealth’s leaders are looking to address recidivism, these new regulations needlessly limit lawful employment for formerly incarcerated people which negatively impacts families and communities.

We’ve been told that these burdensome regulations are for our own protection, especially if we are women. We reject the notion that denying work to our loved ones and neighbors protects us. We refuse to be afraid of our fellow community members.

These new regulations aim to solve a problem that doesn’t exist. The current hiring practices of Transportation Network Companies pose no demonstrated risk to public safety. Yet these new disqualifying conditions have caused a very real crisis in our community. Thousands of our neighbors are losing legal work and these practices will bar thousands more people from gainful employment. These new regulations further stigmatize people who are already struggling to make ends meet.

We urge the Department of Public Utilities to repeal the Disqualifying Conditions. Most egregious among them are:
The unlimited look back period for violent crimes and felony robbery. People who served more than ten years in prison need job opportunities to successfully transition home. Punishing people indefinitely for such convictions is morally wrong and counterproductive to the stated goal of promoting public safety.
• The seven-year look back period for suspended licensees. If a person has a current driver’s license, they should be able to drive.
• Disqualification for open cases. Due process rights must mean that you cannot be fired from your job simply because you are accused of a crime.

If Massachusetts policy makers are truly concerned about high rates of recidivism and supporting successful re-entry, they must reject these new regulations. These regulations are detrimental to the well-being of people with convictions and their families. Making matters worse, the regulations as they are proposed will undoubtedly contribute to racial bias in hiring given the high rates of disparities in the Massachusetts criminal justice system.

Transportation Network Companies already have hiring policies that require background checks. We oppose DPU’s additional regulations because they are punitive with no public safety benefit.

Formerly incarcerated people deserve to ride and drive for Transportation Network Companies. We demand that members of community with CORIs be able to drive safely and earn income for their families.

Sincerely,

Families for Justice as Healing
ACLU of Massachusetts
Black & Pink
Criminal Justice Policy Coalition
Ending Mass Incarceration Together
The Law Offices of Russell J Matson, PC
Massachusetts Bail Fund
New Beginnings Reentry Services, Inc.
The Real Cost of Prisons Project
Showing Up for Racial Justice Boston
Stuck on Replay
Transformative Culture Project
Union of Minority Neighborhoods
Unitarian Universalist Mass Action Network
United for a Fair Economy

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