Uber to Pay $10 Million to Settle Lawsuits with SF and LA Over Driver Background Checks

 Gavel

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

Ride-sharing application provider Uber has agreed pay at least $10 million to settle lawsuits filed by district attorneys in San Francisco and Los Angeles that claim the company misled passengers about the quality of driver background checks, a figure that could rise to $25 million if Uber does not fully comply with terms of the settlements, according to a report from KGO-TV ABC 7 News in San Francisco, CA.

KGO-TV reports that San Francisco and Los Angeles prosecutors sued Uber in 2014 for falsely claiming its driver background checks were the most comprehensive available. The lawsuit noted that prospective Uber drivers did not undergo fingerprint checks like taxi drivers do but instead underwent background checks that included a name search of other criminal databases and motor vehicle department files.

San Francisco-based Uber – which did not admit any wrongdoing in settling the case – has defended the safety of its driver background checks. The company also said that many changes prosecutors sought have already been made under previous settlements such as no longer claiming its driver background checks are “industry leading” and renaming its “safe ride fee” as a “booking fee,” KGO-TV reports.

According to a settlement agreement dated April 7, 2016, Uber shall pay $10 million sixty (60) days after the stipulated judgment, with $5 million for the City and County of San Francisco and $5 million for the County of Los Angeles. An additional $15 million – $7.5 million to San Francisco and $7.5 million to Los Angeles – shall be paid if it is determined that Uber failed to fully comply with the stipulated judgment.

As reported earlier by ESR News, Uber’s driver background checks came under scrutiny in February 2016 after the shooting deaths of six people in Kalamazoo, Michigan – where the alleged gunman supposedly worked as an Uber driver during the killing spree – raised questions about personal safety in the “gig economy” where strangers use software applications to provide a host of services for others.

In an opinion piece ‘Vetting drivers in the age of Uber’ posted on CNN.com, Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) president and chief compliance officer Brad Landin  stated that although the alleged shooter, Jason Brian Dalton, had no criminal record revealed on a background check, the incident “has placed public attention squarely on the issue of the background checks performed on Uber drivers.”

Landin cautioned against solely using private sector databases for background checks since they are “incomplete and subject to both false negatives (meaning a criminal record is missed) and false positives (meaning the record is about the wrong person or that, by law, the criminal matter should not have been reported). In our opinion, this type of database should not be relied upon as a standalone search.”

Landin recommended checking “primary source courthouse records where a person has lived, worked, or studied for at least the past seven years” and suggested employers “utilize a series of overlapping tools to exercise proper due diligence” that included a review of the job application, verification of past employment that accounts for any gaps in employment, and an in-person or video interview.

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR), a leading global background check services provider, is accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) and undergoes yearly SOC 2® Type 2 audits to protect the security, confidentiality, and privacy of consumer information used in background checks. To learn more about ESR, please visit http://www.esrcheck.com.

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