Coronavirus (COVID-19) Delaying Background Checks for Uber and Lyft Drivers

Transportation Network Company (TNC)

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

Some drivers for two of the most popular transportation network companies (TNCs) in the United States – Uber and Lyft – may face suspension as the ongoing Coronaviris (COVID-19) pandemic causes numerous court closures that delay the background checks they need to work, according to a report from The Financial Times.

The Financial Times reported that “drivers for Uber and Lyft are being suspended for weeks because the coronavirus crisis has stalled the court system needed for background checks,” adding that these “gig economy” firms perform criminal checks when drivers first sign up and typically carry out an annual check on their workers.

The third-party company used by both Uber and Lyft to screen their drivers told The Financial Times that court closures have led to “unavoidable delays in processing some background checks” and “more than 800 local courthouses across the U.S. have suffered shutdowns of varying severity since the start of the pandemic.”

The Financial Times reported that Uber and Lyft both indicated they were working with state governments and their screening provider to minimize disruptions for drivers awaiting the results of their background checks during the pandemic. Neither Uber nor Lyft could estimate how many drivers have been affected by the delays.

In July 2018, Uber began using continuous background checks in an effort to improve safety for its riders following a CNN investigation in May 2018 that found more than 100 Uber drivers working in the U.S. were accused of crimes in the past four years. In April 2019, Lyft announced the adoption of continuous screening.

The CNN investigation of police reports and court records for 20 major U.S. cities found that as many as 31 Uber drivers “have been convicted for crimes ranging from forcible touching and false imprisonment to rape.” CNN also discovered 18 cases of Lyft drivers being accused in the past four years with four convictions.

As a result, gig economy businesses are taking the background checks of their on-demand workforces more seriously with ongoing monitoring and continuous screening on workers, according to Employment Screening Resources® (ESR), which selected this trend as one of the “ESR Top Ten Background Check Trends” for 2020.

ESR founder and CEO Attorney Lester Rosen will present the session “Serving the Gig Economy – Challenges and Opportunities for Background Screeners” on September 15, 2020, for the Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA) at the first-ever “virtual” 2020 PBSA Annual Conference. To register for the event, click here.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that spreads from person to person. As of August 10, 2020, there are approximately 19.8 million global cases and 731,000 global deaths, while the United States leads the world with approximately 5 million cases and 162,000 deaths, according to research from Johns Hopkins University.

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – a global background check firm accredited by the PBSA – offers solutions for screening “gig economy” workers and a white paper titled “Background Screening of Extended Workforce Necessary to Compete in Modern Economy.” 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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