Uber Strengthens Background Checks on Drivers to Show Company is Serious about Safety

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

On April 12, 2018, transportation network company (TNC) Uber announced it would increase due diligence to strengthen the background checks conducted on its drivers to ensure they “continue to meet our standards on an ongoing basis,” according to a blog posted on the Uber website.

In the blog titled ‘Getting serious about safety,’ Uber Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dara Khosrowshahi wrote that Uber has “conducted criminal and driving record screenings on millions of people” since the company started nearly nine years ago and will strengthen its background checks moving forward with:

  • Annual background checks: While Uber conducted background check reruns in jurisdictions where required, the company will now proactively rerun criminal background checks and motor vehicle checks each year, regardless of whether there is a legal obligation to do so.
  • New offense notifications: Uber will use technology to rapidly identify new criminal offenses using data sources so they receive notifications when drivers are involved in an offense such as a Driving Under the Influence (DUI) charge to ensure that drivers are still eligible to use Uber.

Uber will also add a ‘Safety Center’ where riders learn safety information, ‘Trusted Contacts’ that riders can share trip details with during rides, improve and modernize 911 communications, and have former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson join Uber’s Safety Advisory Board as Chairman.

“Every day, our technology puts millions of people together in cars in cities around the world. Helping keep people safe is a huge responsibility, and one we do not take lightly. That’s why as CEO, I’m committed to putting safety at the core of everything we do,” Khosrowshahi wrote in the blog.

The growing scrutiny over background checks for TNC drivers – which includes states passing laws or issuing fines to strengthen TNC background checks – is one of the “ESR Top Ten Background Check Trends” for 2018 selected by global background check firm Employment Screening Resources (ESR).

In November 2017, ESR News reported the California Public Utilities Commission strengthened the background checks required for TNC drivers by requiring firms such as Uber to use background screening firms accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS).

Also in November 2017, ESR News reported that criminal investigators with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission issued a Civil Penalty Assessment Notice (CPAN) totaling $8.9 million for Uber “for allowing individuals with disqualifying criminal or motor vehicle offenses, or without valid licenses, to drive for the company.”

In January 2018, ESR News reported the National Limousine Association (NLA) called for legislation mandating fingerprint-based background checks and universal drug screening for TNC drivers after the response of Uber to a public service announcement called “The Signs” drawing attention to sexual assaults in TNC vehicles.

The NLA’s Ride Responsibly initiative and Promoting Awareness, Victim Empowerment (PAVE) produced the public service announcement starring actress, activist, and sexual violence survivor Pamela Anderson that questions if these assaults were caused by insufficient background checks on TNC drivers.

ESR founder and CEO Attorney Lester Rosen – author of “The Safe Hiring Manual” – says it is easy for a screening firm to take short cuts when performing background checks. “With criminal records, there are a number of way to cut corners and it is difficult to evaluate if a real criminal check is being performed.”

ESR offers a complimentary whitepaper entitled “21 Shortcuts and Traps that Can Lead to Inaccurate Criminal Records” that is a summary of the ways that screening firms could take short cuts that may undermine the accuracy of criminal records provided to an employer. The whitepaper is available here.

Background Checks on Uber Drivers Just One Top Trend

In January 2018, Employment Screening Resources (ESR) released its “ESR Top Ten Background Check Trends” of 2018 to reveal emerging trends in the background screening industry. ESR founder and CEO Attorney Lester Rosen also hosted a webinar on the “ESR Top Ten Background Check Trends for 2018.”

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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