California prosecutors are bring a lawsuit up against the popular ride sharing service Uber, citing that its background checks missed people who have been convicted of murder and sex crimes. District attorneys from Los Angeles and San Francisco announced the lawsuit on Thursday. The complaint said registered sex offenders, identity thieves, burglars, a kidnapper and a convicted murderer had passed the firm’s screening process and were driving for the company until they were cited for providing illegal rides.
The original complaint filed in December prosecutors contended that Uber drivers work at airports without obtaining authorization and have charged an extra $4 fee to passengers traveling there without paying anything to the airport. One of the fastest-growing sharing-economy companies, Uber operates its ride-share program in 57 countries and has an estimated value of more than $40 billion.
The 62-page document calls out 25 instances where Uber’s background checks failed to turn up felonies, misdemeanor charges and citations in its drivers’ pasts. It let the following people slip through the cracks and into the driver’s seat. One Uber driver was convicted of second-degree murder in 1982. He spent 26 years in prison, was released in 2008 and applied to Uber. A background report turned up no records relating to his murder conviction. He gave rides to over 1,100 Uber customers. Another driver was convicted on felony charges for lewd acts with children. He gave over 5,600 rides to Uber customers. Yet another was convicted of burglary and identity theft.
The complaint cites a number of Uber’s bold claims about its thorough background checks, including that they “exceed any local or national standard,” and that they include a “lifetime disqualification for sex offenders.” Claims like these are impossible given the lack of biometric identifier and limited history. District Attorney George Gascon released a statement in regards to the safety Uber claims to use. “I support technological innovation,” “Innovation, however, does not give companies a license to mislead consumers about issues affecting their safety.”
Uber released a statement acknowledging that they did hire people with criminal records including sex offenders. “We disagree that the process used by taxi companies is an inherently better system for screening drivers than our background checks,” read an Uber statement. “The reality is that neither is 100% foolproof.” Uber executives emphasized that they rejected more than 600 people who had applied to become taxi drivers in Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco because they had been convicted of violent and drunken driving crimes. This suit is just the latest of legal battles Uber is facing in California.
They are currently being sued over hiring contractors instead of full-time workers and was slapped with a $7.3 million fine for not complying with California regulations. Earlier this month Uber won the dismissal of a racketeering lawsuit brought by 15 Connecticut taxi and limousine companies seeking to stop Uber from doing business in the state. One of the fastest-growing sharing-economy companies, Uber operates its ride-share program in 57 countries and has an estimated value of more than $40 billion.