Are fingerprint background checks a form of discrimination?

against fingerprint background checks for drivers. The Austin City Council had recommended fingerprint background checks for Uber and Lyft drivers, but two local groups are not on board. Teddy McDaniel of the Austin Urban League and Nelson Linder of the Austin chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People wrote a letter to the Council arguing that fingerprint background checks disproportionately discriminate against minority and low-income individuals. “The practice of using fingerprints to access a background database is not a real safety measure as it all-too-often captures only an individual’s arrest, not their conviction,” reads the letter. “As a result, this practice would disproportionately harm Austin’s African-American and Hispanic populations as they are already disproportionately arrested, but not necessarily charged or convicted of any offense.” The two groups argue that because fingerprints are taken soon after an arrest — and are not frequently or regularly updated in federal databases to reflect whether or not an individual was charged or convicted — that a person can be listed as having an arrest record and be disqualified for a job driving for Uber or Lyft, even if that person does not have a criminal conviction. While Austin does have a record of more arrests for low-income and minority individuals, council members suggest there is no indication that drivers would be disqualified from jobs driving for ride-share services due to an arrest with no conviction. Both Austin and Travis County, the county in which Austin resides, have fair-hiring policies to help “ban the box.”]]>

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