As Part of Proposed Settlement, SEPTA Must Lift Blanket Ban on Applicants with Past Drug Convictions



The Philadelphia Inquirer: Patricia Madej - January 29, 2021


SEPTA has struck a deal to lift a “blanket ban” barring qualified applicants from employment at the authority because of past drug convictions as part of a proposed $3.6 million class-action settlement reached in a years-long discrimination case, according to court records.


Frank Long, Joseph Shipley, and Michael White, applicants who were rejected for employment at SEPTA, challenged the alleged policy as well as a “failure” to provide candidates with timely copies of background checks — violations of state and federal law. The case was brought forward in 2016 on behalf of those who sought work at the authority but were turned away “based on old, nonviolent, and irrelevant drug offenses,” according to the motion for preliminary approval of the settlement filed this month in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.


In addition to financial compensation, the proposed settlement “mandates that SEPTA will not institute (or reinstitute) an absolute bar to employment for any felony or misdemeanor conviction, unless required by law.” SEPTA is also supposed to have a consultant to advise in hiring practices and establish priority hiring for those discriminated against based on their criminal record.


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