California Public Utilities Commission Strengthens Background Checks of Drivers for Transportation Network Companies Such as Uber and Lyft

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

On November 9, 2017, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) strengthened the background checks required for drivers for Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) such as Uber and Lyft by requiring TNCs to use companies accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) when conducting background checks on drivers, according to a CPUC press release.

The order requires each TNC to provide proof of accreditation of the background check company to the CPUC, conduct background checks for TNC drivers prior to them driving for a TNC, conduct background checks annually for as long as TNC drivers are authorized to operate on the TNC’s platform, and provide proof of annual background checks of its drivers to the CPUC. Specifically, the CPUC requires TNCs to:

  • First, commercial background check companies that a TNC employs must be accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screener’s Background Screening Credentialing Council. If a TNC conducts background checks in-house, the TNC must itself be accredited by the same entity.
  • Second, each TNC must receive proof of accreditation of the background check company and provide proof of accreditation with any reporting that the Commission may require.
  • Third, the background screening for each TNC driver must be conducted prior to the granting of authorization to operate on the TNC’s platform and repeated at least once per year thereafter, for as long as the TNC driver is authorized to operate on the TNC’s platform. The TNC must provide proof of annual screening of its drivers with any reporting that the Commission may require.
  • Fourth, we limit the information a TNC can require from a criminal background check going past seven years to those disqualifying categories of offenses and convictions set forth in Pub. Util. Code § 5445.2. We do not limit the information a TNC can obtain regarding a TNC driver applicant within the previous seven years.
  • Finally, the Commission declines to require a TNC that does not primarily transport minors to conduct a biometric (i.e., the use of a person’s physical characteristics and other traits) background check of a TNC driver.

After much consideration and public comment, the CPUC declined to require a TNC to conduct biometric background checks of TNC drivers – the use of a person’s physical characteristics, such as fingerprints, and other traits – finding that doing so would not add a greater level of safety over and above the current background check protocols. The new requirements augment those already in place, which include:

  • A TNC or a third-party working on the TNC’s behalf must perform a search of a multistate and multi-jurisdiction criminal records locator or other similar commercial nationwide database with validation; and conduct a search of the U.S. Department of Justice National Sex Offender public website.
  • A TNC may not contract with, employ, or retain persons currently registered on the Department of Justice National Sex Offender public website; or convicted of either a violent felony or a violation of certain Penal Code sections.
  • A TNC may not contract with, employ, or retain persons convicted of any of the following offenses within the previous seven years: misdemeanor assault or battery; domestic violence offense; driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs; a felony violation; or a violation of certain Penal Code sections.

“Our decision today requires that TNCs perform background checks of every driver every year for as long as the driver is authorized to operate on the TNC’s platform,” Commissioner Liane M. Randolph, who was assigned to the proceeding, stated in the CPUC press release. “Our actions strengthen our existing protections for consumers while being responsive to today’s transportation market.”

The CPUC regulates privately owned electric, natural gas, telecommunications, water, railroad, rail transit, and passenger transportation companies. The CPUC serves the public interest by protecting consumers and ensuring the provision of safe, reliable utility service and infrastructure at just and reasonable rates. The document voted on is available here. For more information about the CPUC, visit www.cpuc.ca.gov.

The NAPBS accreditation program for U.S. background check firms is called the Background Screening Agency Accreditation Program (BSAAP) and covers six critical areas of screening: Consumer Protection, Legal Compliance, Client Education, Researcher and Data Product Standards, Verification Service Standards, and General Business Practices. To learn more about the NAPBS, visit www.napbs.com.

ESR Is Accredited By NAPBS For Background Checks

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – a global provider of background checks headquartered in California – is accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) Background Screening Credentialing Council (BSCC) for demonstrating compliance with the Background Screening Agency Accreditation Program (BSAAP). To learn more about ESR, visit www.esrcheck.com.

NOTE: Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) does not provide or offer legal services or legal advice of any kind or nature. Any information on this website is for educational purposes only.

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