Transportation Network Companies

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

The National Limousine Association (NLA) is renewing its call for legislation mandating fingerprint-based background checks and universal drug screening for transportation network company (TNC) drivers following the responses of Uber and Lyft to a public service announcement (PSA) called “The Signs” that draws attention to sexual assaults that occur in ride-hailing vehicles, according to a NLA press release.

The NLA’s Ride Responsibly™ initiative and Promoting Awareness, Victim Empowerment (PAVE) joined forces to produce the PSA starring actress, activist, and sexual violence survivor Pamela Anderson that questions if these assaults were caused by insufficient background checks on drivers. Uber and Lyft claim they perform rigorous background checks on all drivers to ensure the safety of passengers.

“A truly comprehensive screening process would include a fingerprint-based background check solution, with the ability to find crimes many years back and across state lines,” NLA President Gary Buffo stated. “Additionally, in-person interviews as well as drug and alcohol screening are noticeably absent from the ride-hail vetting process, at the same time that our nation is suffering through an opioid crisis.”

Through its Ride Responsibly initiative, the NLA has formed multiple partnerships over several years to advocate for stricter driver vetting. The NLA has also advocated for the rights of ride-hail drivers who are currently classified as independent contractors rather than employees. To learn more about the NLA, a non-profit organization representing the private driver transportation industry, visit

Recent headlines may support the call for stronger background checks of TNC drivers. In January 2018, the Associated Press (AP) reported California prosecutors charged a Mexican man living in the U.S. illegally with raping, assaulting, and robbing four female victims while using his job as an Uber driver to target intoxicated women. Alfonso Alarcon-Nunez, 39, who faces 10 criminal charges, pleaded not guilty.

Uber also faces a class action lawsuit filed by two women who claim they were sexually assaulted by two Uber drivers due in part to Uber allegedly “using low cost, woefully inadequate background checks on drivers.” The lawsuit claims “thousands of female passengers have endured unlawful conduct by their Uber drivers including rape, sexual assault, physical violence and gender-motivated harassment.”

The growing scrutiny over the strength of background checks of TNC drivers is one of the “ESR Top Ten Background Check Trends” for 2018 selected by global background check firm Employment Screening Resources (ESR). Several states have passed laws to strengthen the background checks of drivers for Uber and Lyft to ensure the safety of passengers who use these popular ride-hailing applications.

In November 2017, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) strengthened the background checks required for TNC drivers by requiring firms such as Uber and Lyft to use background screening firms accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) to conduct background checks on drivers and provide proof of NAPBS accreditation of their background check firm.

Also in November 2017, ESR News reported the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) removed “nearly 15 percent of new ride-hail drivers” from apps for failing state mandated screening “despite having passed Uber and Lyft’s background checks.”  In April 2017, ESR News reported more than ten percent of TNC drivers in Massachusetts failed comprehensive background checks required under the law.

States are also issuing fines for TNCs that do not perform adequate background checks on drivers. In November 2017, 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.”

ESR founder and CEO Attorney Lester Rosen – author of “The Safe Hiring Manual” – says it is easy for an employer or screening firm to take short cuts when performing background checks that leave the public without nearly as much protection as they think they are getting. “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 many ways that screening firms could potentially take short cuts that may undermine the accuracy of criminal records provided to an employer. The whitepaper is available at

TNC Driver Background Checks Just One Top Background Check Trend

In January 2018, Employment Screening Resources (ESR) released its annual “ESR Top Ten Background Check Trends” of 2018 to reveal emerging and influential trends in the background screening industry for the coming year. ESR founder and CEO Attorney Lester Rosen also hosted a complimentary webinar on the “ESR Top Ten Background Check Trends for 2018” that is now available for on demand viewing.

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.

© 2018 Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – Making copies or using of any part of the ESR News Blog or ESR website for any purpose other than your own personal use is prohibited unless written authorization is first obtained from ESR.


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