Councilmember Kenyan R. McDuffie’s Statement On Today’s Filing Of A Class Action Lawsuit Against WMATA

Washington, DC- TODAY, Councilmember Kenyan R. McDuffie (D—Ward 5) issued the following statement:

“Today, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Washington Lawyers’ Committee and the law firm Arnold and Porter LLP filed a class action lawsuit against the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), challenging the use of WMATA’s background check policies. The law suit alleges that the transit agency has violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the District of Columbia Human Rights Act by using a discriminatory background screening policy.

I am particularly troubled by the allegations raised in the complaint. In February of this year, my colleagues and I addressed this issue by adopting a Sense of the Council Resolution to encourage WMATA to revise its criminal background screening policy, and to employ more returning citizens (Resolution 20-0509 effective June 24, 2014).

Moreover, on July 14 of this year, the Council adopted of one of the most broad-sweeping pieces of legislation in the nation, prohibiting private employers in most industries from reviewing an applicant’s criminal background until a conditional offer of employment has been made.  As a former civil rights attorney with the United States Department of Justice, I remain resolute in my efforts to ensure fair employment practices exist for those District residents who are ready and willing to work.

Today’s lawsuit underscores the need to implement smarter criminal justice policies that keep us safe, reduce crime and recidivism and enhance justice and fairness.”

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