Transportation Network Companies

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

Uber Technologies, Inc. – a leading global Transportation Network Company (TNC) – faces a class action lawsuit from two anonymous women who claim that as passengers they were sexually assaulted by two Uber drivers due in part to the TNC allegedly “using low cost, woefully inadequate background checks on drivers.”

The lawsuit – filed by Wigdor LLP and Anderson & Poole, P.C. on behalf of Jane Doe 1 and Jane Doe 2 – claims “thousands of female passengers have endured unlawful conduct by their Uber drivers including rape, sexual assault, physical violence and gender-motivated harassment” since Uber launched in 2010.

According to the complaint filed in a Northern California district court on November 14, 2017, “Uber has done everything possible to continue using low-cost, woefully inadequate background checks on drivers and has failed to monitor drivers for any violent or inappropriate conduct after they are hired.”

The class action lawsuit also claims “Uber should have made drastic changes to the way it screens and monitors drivers” and “has created a system for bad actors to gain access to vulnerable victims.” Some safety measures for Uber suggested in the complaint that involve improving background checks include:

  • Bar registered sex offenders or individuals with assault or rape convictions (no time limit) from becoming Uber drivers;
  • Require all Uber drivers nationwide to undergo in-person screening interviews and vehicle examinations;
  • Perform national criminal background checks of all drives every six months;
  • Voluntarily submit driver information to states that wish to conduct their own screening through state maintained criminal databases, such as in Maryland and Massachusetts;
  • Utilize Live Scan, a fingerprint-based background check for drivers administered through the Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) databases for all current and prospective Uber drivers;
  • Perform thorough character checks on prospective drivers that go beyond mere criminal background checks, such as by interacting with people who may personally know an applicant, in order to learn about the person’s reputation and background;
  • Disable sharing of driver profiles by associating each profile with a particular phone, facial recognition software “fingerprint” and/or fingerprint, verified at the in-person screening interview;
  • Engage professional, trained, third-party investigators to perform audits of all current driver employment applications and other required documentation to identify inaccurate, outdated or forged information;

The lawsuit claims Jane Doe 1 was allegedly raped by an Uber driver – who had been previously charged with a felony – in her Florida apartment after falling asleep during her first ride using Uber in 2016. The driver was arrested, charged with two counts of Sexual Battery, and the case is currently pending.

The lawsuit claims Jane Doe 2 – who lives in California – was allegedly raped by an Uber driver in her residence after she fell asleep in the back seat of his car in 2017. Overall, “more than 1000 passengers have experienced rapes, sexual assaults and gender-motivated harassment by their Uber drivers.”

The complaint concludes that “the background checking methods used by Uber cannot assure passengers that the driver behind the wheel does not have a history of violence or other background information that would cause a reasonable company to make further inquiries into a potential driver’s history.”

The complete text of the complaint for the class action lawsuit JANE DOE 1 and JANE DOE 2 vs. UBER TECHNOLOGIES, INC., Case Number 3:17-cv-06571, filed in the United States District Court Northern District of California on November 14, 2017, is available by clicking here.

In November 2017, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) strengthened the background checks for drivers in the state for TNCs such as Uber and Lyft by requiring TNCs to use background check firms accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS).

The CPUC order requires TNCs to provide proof of accreditation of the background check firm, conduct background checks on TNC drivers prior to them driving for them, conduct background checks annually on TNC drivers, and provide proof of annual background checks of its drivers to the CPUC.

NOTE: Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) reminds readers that allegations alone made in class action lawsuits are not proof that a business or person violated any law, rule, or regulation.

More Blogs about Uber Background Checks

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