Ridesharing: Uber & Lyft Assaults Continue

December 22, 2017

From 2017 to 2019, as their groundbreaking new services gained in popularity, drivers with the ridesharing services Uber and Lyft were charged with assault at the average rate of nearly one incident every two weeks. According to whosdrivingyou.org, at the time of this writing, between Lyft and Uber, there have been a staggering 44 deaths, 10 kidnappings, 20 felons, 92 imposters, 86 assaults, topped with 345 sexual assaults.

With such large, rapidly growing enterprises some mishaps are to be expected. Or so the argument goes. But can we really chalk this up to growing pains?

In contrast to the rideshare companies, when Chipotle had nearly four dozen incidents of people getting sick from their food, they took aggressive action and shut down affected stores and implemented new policies (see Business Insider). They didn’t send out PR experts to say; “Look, you can expect a bit of food poisoning now and then, that’s just life.”

Which response gives you more confidence in a company — making a public announcement that the chances of food poisoning are low, or taking ownership of the problem and changing how they do business?

To become an Uber driver a candidate must not have major traffic violations such as DUI/DWI, or be convicted of felony, sexual offenses or violent crime in the last seven years. In addition, no more than three minor violations over three years. This link will take you to the Uber requirements page. What should a company do when most of its workforce are franchisees? More due diligence in screening candidates would likely require more expense and result in fewer drivers.

Uber typically conducts background checks via the startup Checkr. Similarly, Lyft screens by the third-party agency Sterling Talent Solutions. While the digital background checks seem like a good start, Uber doesn’t take the time to meet most candidates face-to-face. Have you ever heard of being hired for a job that never required you to meet them? How do they match the name with the person?

According to the CNN article “What we know (and don’t know) about Uber background checks“:
“Governments should be running background checks on Uber and Lyft drivers, not the companies themselves,” said Dave Sutton, spokesman for “Who’s Driving You?” an initiative from the Taxicab, Limousine & Paratransit Association. “Uber and Lyft’s background checks consistently miss things.”

Studies have shown fingerprints are a far more reliable method to identify people. Meanwhile in most states, these rideshare companies most often rely on names and Social Security numbers to match prospective drivers to their records (See Fingerprint-Based Criminal Background Checks Are 43 Times More Accurate Than Name Checks). In New York City, laws were passed to compel Uber and Lyft to screen drivers with fingerprints and background checks. If New York has found it needs higher standards, why not states like Georgia?

Does this constitute “best effort” in finding qualified drivers and protecting the public, or are we settling for “good enough”?

DISCLAIMER: The information herein is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. For any legal matters, we urge you to take the advice of an attorney familiar with your case.
Categories: Law Blog, Battery, Assault