2019Transportation Network Companies
Transportation Network Companies (TNCs)

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

A review of records from the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) has revealed 168 cases in the past five years where city inspectors either suspended or revoked permits of drivers working for Uber and Lyft “because of criminal or driving history,” according to a news report from KGW8 in Portland, Oregon.

The 168 drivers – which included two convicted felons – should not have been working for Uber and Lyft in Portland and should have been rejected by the rival transportation network companies (TNCs) during routine background checks but “slipped through the cracks instead,” KGW8 reported.

The information – which was obtained through a public record request from the city of Portland – “indicate 78 Uber drivers should have been disqualified because of their driving history” and that “Lyft had 90 drivers in Portland who should have been disqualified,” KGW8 reported.

Both Uber and Lyft are coming under increased scrutiny over the quality of their background checks on drivers. In September of 2019, a lawsuit filed “on behalf of 14 rape and sexual assault victims” claimed Lyft received nearly 100 sexual assault complaints over a two-year period in California.

In addition, the lawsuit claimed 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 lawsuit stated. “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.”

In April 2018, Uber announced that the company would strengthen its background checks on drivers. 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 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.

Growing concerns over inadequate background checks for “gig economy” firms such as Uber and Lyft that focus on temporary jobs or “gigs” was chosen by leading 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” – which is another name for the “gig economy” where applications or “apps” are used to facilitate on-demand services to consumers – 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 can 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 for “gig economy” firms that use on-demand workers from 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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