The Fair Chance Act is meant to guarantee people a fair shake

04 December 2019

This morning, The City published a piece about a recent report that reveals that at least 11 people were fired by the MTA after background checks determined that they had a prior criminal conviction. Liz Gaynes submitted the below response to that publication's editor.


Today’s morning Scoop includes the article “Lax Background Checks Led to Risky MTA Hires, Probe Finds” that seems to delight in revealing flaws in the hiring and background check process at the MTA. Jose Martinez's article, which you somehow think aligns with your mission to tell truth to power, misses the point entirely. There is plenty of outrage available for the fact that at least 11 bus drivers were fired because they had been incarcerated, but it should be outrage on behalf of the fired workers. People—all people—who have been convicted of a crime and completed the state’s sanction can and should be allowed to seek family-supporting employment. And let's not forget that the Inspector General's report does not suggest that these employees had workplace infractions or put anyone at risk—something ANY bus driver would rightly be reprimanded for doing.

Here in NYC, the Fair Chance Act is meant to guarantee people a fair shake during the hiring and employment process. Your big reveal that “people convicted of serious crimes [are allowed] to become city bus drivers” is an indication that we have so much more work to do. Journalism is such a vital tool for a healthy democracy; it’s a shame to see it used to punch down, rather than to take on these systems that continue to stigmatize and dehumanize our fellow citizens.

Elizabeth Gaynes
President and CEO
The Osborne Association