April 27, 2016
SEPTA violates federal and state laws when conducting background checks on prospective employees, alleges a class-action lawsuit filed Wednesday.
The lawsuit alleges SEPTA routinely violates the state Criminal History Record Information Act by disqualifying job applicants with unrelated felony convictions from employment in positions involving the operation of SEPTA vehicles.
It also claims SEPTA fails to provide job applicants "clear and conspicuous" written disclosure necessary to obtain consumer reports, a violation of the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act. SEPTA rejects prospective employees based on the information obtained in those reports, the plaintiffs allege.
The lawsuit was filed in federal court by Outten and Golden LLP and a group of legal advocates.
The lead plaintiff, Frank Long, who has a commercial bus license, claims SEPTA rescinded a 2014 job offer after being subjected to its criminal background check process. Long, 56, of Philadelphia, was convicted of a drug-related felony more than 20 years ago, but attorneys say he has since maintained a clean record.
"I've lived in Philadelphia practically all my life and have experience doing exactly the kind of work SEPTA was hiring for," Long said in a statement. "I care about my community and am not a threat to anyone. This job would make a real difference in my life."
SEPTA spokesman Andrew Busch declined to comment, saying the transit authority does not comment on active litigation.
Long seeks an unspecified amount in statutory and punitive damages.