The Cincinnati Enquirer reports that a fired bus driver, backed by the nation’s largest transit unions, filed a class action lawsuit against Cincinnati-based First Transit saying the transit company’s policy barring individuals with felony convictions is discriminatory against blacks and Hispanics and violates long-standing civil rights laws.
Experts say that the case could change hiring practices for all companies nationally whoever prevails, and could set major labor law precedent.” First Transit “is a subsidiary of downtown-based First Group America, the nation’s largest private provider of transit services for public city bus systems as well as public and private school districts, and also owns Greyhound Bus Lines.”
The First Transit case involves Adrienne Hudson, an African-American single mother from Oakland, Calif. She was hired and then fired from a First Transit job after it was discovered she had an expunged conviction for welfare fraud on her record seven years prior – a conviction she says she took to stay with her children even though her former boyfriend was the actual culprit.
The Amalgamated Transit Union says that the policy violates the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which states that employers can’t base hiring on a past felony conviction if it would disproportionately impact minority groups. Union officials, who support the case, argue that minorities have disproportionately higher criminal records, and therefore such policies are discriminatory.