Our testimony against unfair hiring policies

On Tuesday May 23, the Department of Public Utilities held a public hearing about proposed new hiring regulations for Transportation Network Companies. Hundreds of drivers and community members attended the hearing and gave over 4 hours of testimony about the harms of regulations that expand and extend criminal and driving background checks for drivers.

Worst among the proposed regulations are:

  • Unlimited look back period for certain offenses including convictions and CWOFs
  • Seven year look back period for suspended licenses
  • Disqualification for open cases

We recruited drivers to attend the hearing and testified against imposing these unfair, unnecessary hiring regulations that prohibit formerly incarcerated people and people with criminal records from gainful employment. The DPU is accepting public comments until Tuesday June 6 – we encourage you to add your voice by emailing your comments to dpu.efiling@state.ma.us.

Below is the testimony we gave at the hearing.

“My name is Mallory Hanora. I work with Families for Justice as Healing and I live in Dorchester. I strongly oppose the harsh and punitive proposed hiring regulations for Transportation Network Companies. These ride companies already do sufficient background checks.

The hiring regulations as imposed by the Memorandum of Understanding between the state and the Transportation Network Companies have already had a negative impact on thousands of families whose loved ones were unfairly fired and lost needed income without warning.

I’ve heard from the Governor and other policymakers that these regulations are supposed to keep me, as a woman, safe. Denying legal work to people with criminal records does not protect any of us who are already struggling to make ends meet. I refuse to be afraid of my neighbors.

Under the proposed regulations, I would not be able to drive for a Transportation Network Company to supplement my modest non-profit income due to having an open criminal case related to civil disobedience. Firing people who have merely been accused of crimes is a blatant violation of due process. It also escalates the consequences of arrest by imposing financial crisis on low-income and working class people and their families.

These proposed regulations will certainly contribute to racial discrimination in hiring practices given the endemic racism of the Massachusetts criminal justice system. According to the Sentencing Project, Massachusetts has the worst rates of Latino/white racial disparities in the county. Black people make up 8% of the state population and 28% of the state prison population as reported by the Department of Corrections. Hiring regulations that expand background checks and extend the look back period will only enhance harm caused by racial bias in Massachusetts.

The unlimited look back period for certain violent crimes is especially punitive and counterproductive to the stated goal of public safety. It is immoral to continue punishing people who already spent years of their life in a cage by denying them the right to dignified employment. We know that people who served more than ten years in prison have a particularly difficult time finding work that pays them a living wage so they can life safely in their own community.

There should be no look back period for suspended licenses. If a person has a current, valid license they should be able to drive.

Formerly incarcerated people and people with criminal records are regular passengers in Uber and Lyft cars which have expanded transportation options to underserved communities. We deserve to drive too.

I urge you to repeal these harsh, punitive regulations which have no public benefit and do so in the name of fairness and dignified employment for Bay Staters who need it.”

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