Update Thursday 5/25: Attorney Johanna Griffiths was on THE TAKE with Sue O’Connell last night on NECN to discuss the hearing. Check out the video.Criminal Charge in Massachusetts? Call Attorney Russell Matson at (781) 817-6332.
Thanks to everyone who turned out at the hearing. There were about a hundred now-former rideshare drivers sharing compelling and heartbreaking stories of how they have been unfairly treated.
Everyone just wants to earn a fair living in a job they love. One fascinating fact was that practically every single driver cited the exact date and moment they found out about the rejection and removal from the system. Unexpectedly losing your livelihood and the ability to provide for your family is a traumatic incident.
Testifying in favor of reform and on behalf of drivers were from Jessica Taylor Lyft and Tom Maguire from Uber, a variety of criminal justice reform groups including the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice, Families for Justice as Healing. Speaking against reforms were Boston police officers and a handful of cabbies.
Many drivers shared stories about disqualifying incidents from decades in the past, dating as far back as 50 years ago. And there were also seemingly trivial incidents of license suspension mix-ups due to unpaid fees years in the past that seemingly couldn’t be resolved.
The insanity of the strictness of the background checks was startling. There were drivers who are completely cleared to do work volunteer work with kids, teach sunday school, carry firearms, and even have valid cabbie licenses, yet they can’t pass the ridiculous TNC standards.
Any reasonable due process and administrative discretion in the appeals process would undoubtedly clear many, if not most of these people to drive. Yet no such process exists.
With the amazing number of drivers who turned out to protest unfair rejection, it will be hard for the DPU to not make changes.
Please support Uber/Lyft state background check reform at the hearing before the DPU rideshare board on Tuesday, 5/23/17 10am at the Transportation building. It is at 10 Park Plaza in Boston.
What background check reforms do we want?
- A CWOF (Continuance without a Finding) should not be treated the same as a conviction.
- End the unlimited lookback. Punishing people for things that happened 10, 20, 30 or even 50 years ago is crazy. People make mistakes and they change. No one should be automatically trapped for life by one mistake.
- A seven year look-back for a suspended license is unfair. If a person has a valid license, and meets the other requirements, that is more than sufficient
- A real appeals process implemented with due process and judicial discretion.
Why is the current system unfair?
- It is extremely broad and overreaching. It keeps people from a decent job when there is no legitimate public safety concern.
- It punishes the poor and recently poor. Many people end up with a suspended license simply due to the inability to pay tickets.
- It punishes minorities and the over-policed. The ACLU notes that minority drivers are more likely to have been arrested than white citizens.
- It punishes people who didn’t get or couldn’t afford top notch legal representation. In many cases, if an experienced criminal defense attorney had represented them at the original incident, they could have avoided a conviction (or CWOF) on their record, with a dismissal, a diversion program, or with no charge being issued at a clerk magistrates hearing.
- It betrays the principals of the Massachusetts criminal justice system. A CWOF is not a conviction, and was never intended to be treated as such for the purpose of any background checks.
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