Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn
On October 16, 2016, a Florida woman filed a lawsuit against Lyft, Inc. and the company conducting background checks for the transportation network company (TNC) that claimed the companies violated the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) when “a mix-up in her background check cost her time away from her job with devastating consequences,” according to WFTS ABC Action News in Tampa Bay, FL.
WFTS News reported the lawsuit filed by former Lyft driver Theresa Jones in federal court in the Middle District of Florida claimed background checks conducted by Lyft – one in 2019 by their current screening provider and one in 2017 by a previous provider – confused her with a woman with the same name and date of birth (DOB), and a criminal charge in Pennsylvania for “disorderly conduct engaging in fight.”
Jones was unable to drive for Lyft even for periods of time even though she claimed she never had that criminal charge. The attorney representing Jones told WFTS News there was “an individual with the same date of birth and the exact same name in Pennsylvania” who “was arrested, charged, and plead to a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct engaging in fighting.”
WFTS News reported that Jones contacted Pennsylvania State Police and submitted fingerprints to clear her name in 2017, and the agency provided a letter that stated: “Upon receipt of a copy of your fingerprints, they were classified and compared with those in our file for someone. The comparison revealed that the fingerprints on file for that individual did not match those you supplied.”
When the mix up occurred again in 2019, Jones filed a lawsuit against Lyft and their screening provider. “Their service is to gather people’s background. And if you have that kind of duty you have to ensure that the information you have has the maximum possible accuracy,” Jones’ attorney told WFTS News about the screening firm. “The violation from Lyft is by taking adverse effect without allowing her to correct it.”
WFTS News also reported this statement from a Lyft spokesperson: “Safety is fundamental to our community. We act out of an abundance of caution whenever a driver background check – provided by a third-party company – returns concerning results. Once we were made aware of the confusion surrounding Ms. Jones’ account, we worked to rectify the issue to ensure that Ms. Jones could continue driving with Lyft.”
Under the FCRA, a background check provider must “follow reasonable procedures to assure maximum possible accuracy of the information concerning the individual about whom the report relates.” The FCRA also requires employers who take an “adverse action” – a negative action – against current or prospective employees based on a background check to allow them a chance to dispute that report.
In April of 2019, Lyft adopted continuous background checks for drivers to enhance the safety and security of their platform. The blog post announcement stated that the “safety of the Lyft community is our top priority” and that “all Lyft drivers must pass a criminal background check” and continuous background checks require “all active drivers to pass another background check at least every 12 months.”
Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) offers several complimentary white papers about the FCRA and criminal records including ways employers are sued under the FCRA, ways screening firms are sued under the FCRA, what employers should do if they find a criminal record, and shortcuts screening firms can take that lead to inaccurate criminal records. To learn more about ESR, visit www.esrcheck.com.
NOTE: Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) reminds readers that allegations alone made in lawsuits are not proof that a business or person violated any law, rule, or regulation.
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