2019Transportation Network Companies
Transportation Network Companies (TNC)

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

A mass tort lawsuit filed “on behalf of 14 rape and sexual assault victims” against Lyft, Inc. claims the transportation network company (TNC) received nearly 100 sexual assault complaints over a two-year period in California, according to an announcement made by the law firm of Estey & Bomberger that filed the suit.

The complaint filed in San Francisco Superior Court on September 4, 2019, claims Lyft states “safety is our top priority” while allowing known sexual predators to transport vulnerable passengers and alleges that Lyft conceals sexual assault complaints from both law enforcement and the general public.

The lawsuit claims Lyft received nearly 100 sexual assault complaints against its drivers in California between 2014 and 2016. “The 14 victims we represent and California’s nearly 100 sexual assault complaints are just the tip of the iceberg,” Attorney Stephen Estey stated in the announcement.

In addition, the lawsuit claims that Lyft does not perform adequate background checks and does not fingerprint drivers. “The hiring of Lyft drivers occurs without any real screening,” the 40-page complaint states. “There is no adequate background check and no biometric fingerprinting.”

In April of 2019, Lyft announced the adoption of continuous background checks and enhanced identity verification. The blog post Lyft’s Commitment to Safety stated the “safety of the Lyft community is our top priority” and that Lyft has designed “policies and features that protect both drivers and riders.”

The blog post stated that all Lyft drivers must pass a criminal background check before giving a ride. In addition, the blog claimed that the continuous background checks would require “all active drivers to pass another background check at least every 12 months” in order to remain on the Lyft platform.

Lyft also announced an enhanced identity verification process “combining driver’s license verification and photographic identity verification to prevent identity fraud on our platform.” Potentially fraudulent drivers will be required by Lyft to provide evidence that they are carrying the approved driver’s license.

In April of 2018, Uber – Lyft’s main competitor – announced the TNC would strengthen its background checks. In a blog post titled Getting serious about safety, Uber Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dara Khosrowshahi wrote that Uber would strengthen its driver screening with annual background checks.

In July of 2018, Uber began performing continuous background checks on some of its drivers in an effort to improve safety for its riders following a CNN investigation that found at least 103 Uber drivers working in the U.S. “have been accused of sexually assaulting or abusing their passengers in the past four years.”

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

Concerns over background checks for “gig economy” firms such as Uber and Lyft that use temporary workers performing short-term work – or “gigs” – was chosen by global background check provider Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) as one of the “ESR Top Ten Background Check Trends” for 2019.

Attorney Lester Rosen, ESR’s founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), wrote an article in which he stated the basic problem for the “trust economy” – another name for the “gig economy” – where technology is used to connect consumers with mostly strangers to perform on-demand services – is “trust.”

In his article “Why Consumers Cannot Trust the Trust Economy – The Inherent Conflict of Interest between Gig Economy Firms and their Customers and How to Fix It,” Rosen – the author of “The Safe Hiring Manual” – explained how hiring practices of “trust economy” firms may potentially pose a risk to consumers.

Rosen also wrote a white paper titled “Background Screening of Extended Workforce Necessary to Compete in Modern Economy” that shows why employers must avoid unnecessary gaps in background screening programs for an extended workforce expected to reach 7.6 million workers in 2020.

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – which is headquartered in Northern California – offers background checks “gig economy” firms for on-demand workers in the extended workforce. To learn more, visit www.esrcheck.com/Background-Checks/Industry-Specific-Solutions/On-Demand/.

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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