Volume 25

Getting Fired by an App: The Shifting Legal Landscape of Criminal-Records-Based Exclusions from "Transportation-Network Companies" in Washington, D.C.

by Maya Sheppard

Examining the exclusion of a class of D.C. workers from two of the most well-known players in the gig economy—Uber and Lyft—reveals the role of local politics in the inability of marginalized workers to access gig work as well as the gaps within current discrimination law. In this Article, I will examine some specific problems for D.C.-based workers with a criminal history attempting to drive for these “Transportation Network Companies” (TNCs). I will tell the story of the “deactivation” of one D.C.-based African-American driver with a ten-year-old criminal history from Uber’s platform and, through this story, I will explore the challenges of seeking redress from TNCs through discrimination law, and the need for policies rooted in an understanding of research regarding desistance from crime as well as the racially disparate impact of the criminal justice system.

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