Landmark Case: Holding Metro Accountable

With the help of Washington Lawyers’ Committee, a group of African American applicants and employees received a groundbreaking $6.5 million settlement from the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) — and a chance to work.

When he was just a teenager in in 1987, Erick Little, one of the 9 plaintiffs in the case, was convicted of a drug offense. In 2013, WMATA offered him a job as a bus driver — subject to a background check. He disclosed his 26-year-old conviction and was assured that it would not be held against him, but the job offer was rescinded anyway. Our lawsuit alleged that WMATA’s overbroad criminal background check policy violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964 because it disqualified a disproportionate number of African American applicants.

Mr. Little, a youth football coach, told us one reason he joined this lawsuit was to show his young players that “past mistakes can be overcome if you are willing to work hard to turn your life around.” We’re proud to have helped him and other DC area residents win justice.

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