“Do you have reliable transportation?”
This question is asked in job interviews, put on employment applications, and talked about in HR offices all over the country. An outsider would probably wonder, why not just ask potential hires if they have a car? Seems straight to the point and will tell you if you can expect your employees to be at work on time and have good attendance.
Any employer can tell you… Asking about cars is a question completely off limits.
Let’s back up a bit. In 1964, The Civil Rights Act was passed with many reputable benefits to follow. With the inclusion of Title VII of this Act, it officially became illegal to discriminate against potential hires because of “gender, race, age, national origin, religion, or other non-job-related basis.” Gender, sexual orientation, race, age, disability, national origin, and religion are all pretty easily understood in terms of being anti-discriminatory. However, “non-job related basis” is very clearly… unclear.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is responsible for the language, interpretation, and litigation in regards to Title VII and what exactly “non-job related” questions and discrimination are. Asking about reliable transportation is how employers ask about attendance in a roundabout way. Some other examples of questions regarding attendance that would be inappropriate are asking about religious holidays the person celebrates, how many kids they have, and if their children are school-aged or not. However, directly inquiring about car ownership as a means to ask about attendance falls under “protected financial information.”
From the EEOC: “‘Financial information’ includes current or past assets, liabilities, or credit rating, bankruptcy or garnishment, refusal or cancellation of bonding, car ownership, rental or ownership of a house, length of residence at an address, charge accounts, furniture ownership, or bank accounts.”
What Counts as Reliable Transportation?
Here are some examples that could possibly count as dependable ways to get to work:
- Personal automobile
- Public Transit (bus, train, etc.)
- Commuter Benefits
As an employer, if attendance is important to you, you can provide your employees with options to get to work in the form of commuter benefits. This is required in certain cities in the country, like San Francisco, Washington D.C., and New York, just to name a few. Even if your city doesn’t mandate commuter benefits, they can be a great incentive for employment with your company. Commuter benefits can be provided in many different forms: such as a prepaid parking pass, public transportation vouchers, reimbursement for a bicycle, or a microtransit solution, such as ones provided by SHARE Mobility. For example, SHARE Mobility provides Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) through our unique software commuter analysis and fleet management, providing vehicles on an as-needed basis to employees who book through our web-based booking system. You can find out more about our turnkey transportation solution here.
Maybe someday, we will live in a world where employees ask their employers if they have a way to provide reliable transportation.