Rideshare Services Accused of Failing Criminal Background Check Policies
After sweeping the United States and the world with its popularity, rideshare services like Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar now face accusations in their homestate – California – that the companies don’t conduct thorough enough criminal background checks, to prevent personal injury and car accidents.
The district attorneys of both San Francisco and Los Angeles said on Thursday, September 25th, that Sidecar Inc in particular, but other rideshare companies as well, have failed to conduct proper, thorough criminal background checks on their contract employee drivers in accordance with California business law.
The rideshare services have already encountered numerous accusations as they expanded across the country, hiring drivers in nearly every major city, including three cities in South Carolina. In particular, taxi companies have filed lawsuits against Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar for violating taxi company codes, which regulate drivers and their vehicles in the event of a car accident. Uber also faces a wrongful death lawsuit from a family in San Francisco, accusing the service of promoting distracted driving through the mobile app that helps drivers find fares. On New Year’s Day, this year, a driver in the city hit two children and their mother while the family crossed the street, killing a 6-year-old girl and injuring the other two victims.
In response, Uber and Lyft have both expanded their insurance coverage of drivers, but the companies have primarily hidden behind vague employment laws around contract employees, claiming their drivers much provide their own personal insurance because they use their personal vehicles, rather than specifically-labeled company provided taxis. The companies have also argued that they created a mobile app business, not a taxi company, and they cannot regulate how users interface with the smartphone app.
George Gascon, the district attorney of San Francisco, and Jackie Lacey, his counterpart in Los Angeles, filed a complaint against all three major rideshare companies, with a focus on Sidecar, stating that the companies mislead customers on how thoroughly they run criminal background checks. Without submitting employee drivers to criminal background checks, drivers with histories of felony DUI or assault and battery could become employees and find victims through the rideshare service.
According to Sunil Paul, the chief executive of Sidecar, he has already discussed the issue of background checks with local regulators, but he was surprised by the “sudden escalation” in concern in California. Mr. Paul said that his company runs thorough criminal background checks in accordance with the state’s law, but that Sidecar also cannot exclude potential employees if they were convicted of a felony seven years ago or more.
“We value innovation and new modes of providing service to the public,” San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon said in a statement. “However, we need to make sure the safety and well-being of consumers are adequately protected in the process.”
The Strom Law Firm Helps Victims of Distracted Driving in Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Cases
If you or a loved one have been injured or killed because of an accident, whether it was caused by distracted driving or DUI, the attorneys at the Strom Law Firm can help. The sooner you hire one of our accident lawyers, the sooner we will be able to investigate your case and the stronger your case will be. We offer free, confidential consultations to discuss the facts of your case, so do not hesitate to call us. 803.252.4800