Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority (WMATA): Reverse Metro's hiring policy on people with criminal convictions.
  • Petitioned Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority (WMATA)

This petition was delivered to:

Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority (WMATA)

Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority (WMATA): Reverse Metro's hiring policy on people with criminal convictions.

    1. Petition by

      Metro Washington Public Health Association - Health Disparities Committee

For 30 years, WMATA hired people with criminal convictions, giving people who have been previously incarcerated a chance at stable employment. Since December 2012, however, WMATA changed their policy and will no longer hire people with almost any felony conviction or any weapons violation, even misdemeanors. This applies to new applicants and current employees, regardless of how long ago they had a conviction.

In consideration of the facts that:

  • 10 percent of the current population of DC, or 60,000 people, have criminal records, with as many as 8,000 people returning to the District each year after serving a sentence in prison or jail.

  • Arrest and imprisonment rates disproportionately affect African American and Latino men; according to GWU Law Professor Donald Braman, 3 out of 4 of the District’s young African American men are likely to be incarcerated at least once in their lives due to well-documented disparities in criminal enforcement

  • Low-income populations and people of color are unfairly targeted by police surveillance and are disproportionately incarcerated

  • Having a criminal record is like a scarlet letter in the job market; in a survey of 500 DC residents who had served time in prison or jail in 2011, 46 percent were unemployed, most had experienced constant roadblocks, and 80 percent said they were asked “all the time” about their criminal record when seeking employment.

  • Income is one of the strongest and most consistent predictors of health and disease; people who are low-income experience higher rates of disease and early death

  • Persistent unemployment and poverty can have devastating consequences for not only the individuals, but for their families who may depend on them for support

  • Securing meaningful employment with good pay and benefits can have positive effects on reducing recidivism; employment is perceived to be a major step in getting “back on track”, supporting one’s family, and becoming a productive and contributing member of society

  • Stable employment has been shown to lessen the chances of the previously incarcerated persons from reoffending and being reincarcerated; our neighborhoods are safer if those who have served time are in stable jobs. The District will also benefit economically, the unemployment rate will drop, and growing number of the previously incarcerated persons will become contributing, tax paying members of our community

  • WMATA is one of the region’s largest employers and provide good paying jobs with benefits; their policy permanently excludes whole categories of job seeks and does not allow for the previously incarcerated to undergo individualized assessments based on their entire employment history and background

  • WMATA’s recent policy adoption violates guidance issued last year by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) that prohibits criminal records policies that are too broad and exclude otherwise qualified applicants

  • WMATA’s policy applies equally to current employees, even those who have successfully worked for years without incidence, and

  • We believe that people who have committed crimes in the past, pay their debt to society, and return from prison should have the right to return to mainstream society and move forward with their lives in positive ways,

the members of the Metro Washington Public Health Association Health Disparities Committee demand that WMATA reverse its discriminatory and harmful hiring policies that bar the hiring of previously incarcerated people. For the 8,000 people that will return from serving time in prisons or jails this year in DC and their families, there is an urgent need for jobs with a living wage. We demand that WMATA create more jobs and hire the previously incarcerated. 

Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority (WMATA)
Reverse Metro's hiring policy on people with criminal convictions.

[Your name]

Recent signatures


    1. Good news! Metro rehires worker who was out with cancer

      WMATA rehired Mr. Jackson! Please spread the word. The recently reinstated worker told a friend who brought his case to our attention "how grateful he is to have you guys jump to his corner and not even know him. Shows that you guys just don't talk the talk. You guys make it happen."

    2. Another worker fired after years with Metro

      After rallies, hearings, and letters, WMATA (Metro) continues to fire workers with criminal backgrounds. Another long time worker lost his job today because he committed crimes over 18 years ago. This worker, in his 50s, just returned to his job after fighting cancer for a year. Metro re-ran his background check and noticed some errors in his original application.

      So - they fired him after working there for years!

      Without organizing, these firings will continue. If you are in the DC area, please come out to our committee's next meeting:

      Thursday, March 20th
      6:30 pm to 8:30 pm
      Stoddert Terrace Center
      155 Ridge Rd SE DC 20019
      rsvp kpomeran@gwu.edu

    3. Opportunities to Address the Union Local and the WMATA Board

      The Metro workers' union, ATU Local 689, will host a forum:
      Wed, January 29, 10AM at ATU Union Hall, 2701 Whitney Place, Forestville, MD 20747. Speakers from the EEOC, Dept of Labor, and Federal Trade Commission will address the use of criminal background checks. Members of the Health Disparities Committee plan to attend and speak out on our petition campaign and the lack of response from the WMATA Board.

      The WMATA Board is also currently holding public hearings to consider fare increases and the yearly budget, which includes a line item for background checks. Our Committee will support a rally on Feb 6 at 6 PM at the Jackson Graham building (Metro headquarters, 600 5th Street NW, Washington, DC) and testify against background checks and fare increases at the hearings to follow. The complete schedule of budget hearings can be found on the WMATA website: http://www.wmata.com/about_metro/news/PressReleaseDetail.cfm?ReleaseID=5632

      Metro - About Metro - News -

      Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority: About Metro

    4. Resolution Submitted to DC City Council

      As a result of the Health Disparities Committee's work and this petition, Muriel Bowser submitted a resolution to the DC City Council: "In 2011, WMATA revised its screening policy that now permanently bars individuals with minor charges and other felony convictions to work at the transit agency. As a result...employees who have disclosed all prior convictions and have still worked in exemplary fashion were discharged. The Sense of the Council on the Need for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority to Establish a Returning Citizens Policy Resolution of 2014 outlines the problems associated with the new policy and urges WMATA to revise their background check policy and make greater effort to hire returning citizens."

    5. WMATA Board of Directors Meets Thursday, September 12

      Workers who have lost their jobs, applicants who have been refused, and members of the Metropolitan Public Health Association will rally outside with supporters, friends, and current WMATA employees. Please join us, noon to 1:30pm, at the Jackson Graham Building, 600 5th St., NW, Washington, DC.

      Contact Karyn Pomerantz at kpomeran@gwu.edu or (202) 994-3623 for more information, or if you are interested in testifying directly to WMATA's Board of Directors.

      The Metropolitan Public Health Association (MWPHA), an American Public Health Association (APHA) affiliate, works to improve the health of the Metropolitan Washington region. We educate members, other professionals and the public about public health in order to advocate for social justice and enhance public health practice, addressing the conditions necessary for healthy communities.

    6. Reached 500 signatures


    Reasons for signing

    • floyd little sr WASHINGTON, DC
      • about 1 month ago

      Metro is a Major company who can help millions of returning citizens get a second chance in life, everyone deserves a second chance.

    • akuma mccaty PURCELLVILLE, VA
      • 3 months ago

      it is important to me because I got disqualified because of a speeding ticket

    • Valeria Inman WASHINGTON, DC
      • 4 months ago

      Because last year, I denied a job at Metro for a criminal charge that I had on my record from 1996. They took me through the whole process, but in the end I was denied the job, because of a drug possession charge that I had in Va.

    • amy turner WASHINGTON, DC
      • 4 months ago

      Dept of labor executive order 306

    • markell graham FT. WASHINGTON, MD
      • 4 months ago

      I am a metro applicant who is directly affected by wmata's policies.


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