Eight members of Congress wrote an open letter to the three top ride-sharing companies urging them to “...use the most rigorous and comprehensive screening methods.” The letter goes on to say that the lawmakers do not believe Uber, Lyft and Sidecar are utilizing “all of the available tools to ensure passenger safety. The letter continued with, “Your companies should implement fingerprint-based background checks right now.”
As a background screening provider, we have to say this directive is absurd. The FBI fingerprint database is notoriously incomplete. Local law enforcement agencies upload fingerprints from every person charged, or just detained, but very few agencies ever provide the federal system with the final outcomes of the case. A study by the National Employment Law Project found that 1-in-2 FBI fingerprint records are flawed. (If you would like to learn more about the problems with the fingerprint database, click here.)
The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) has been working to educate employers, as well as lawmakers, about the vast limitations of the FBI Fingerprint Database.
In fact, this misconception was the main topic of the NAPBS legislative agenda last year. I personally met with lawmakers to discuss the need to stop limiting screening requirements in future bills to “fingerprinting” specifically; but to use the more inclusive phrase “background screening” instead. This is an important distinction considering fingerprinting is not the end-all-be-all lawmakers believe it to be. They also don’t seem to realize that the vast majority of employers do not have the legal right to access such information.
In statements issued in response to a BuzzFeed article, Uber, Lyft and Sidecar laid out their background screening programs. They include federal, multi-state and county criminal records as well as searches for DUI’s and vehicle offenses. Sidecar also specifies they look at sex offenses, reckless driving and felony drug convictions. If they are truly doing the screening they claim, these companies are covering all of their bases. They are also going above and beyond what many taxi drivers and livery drivers are required to provide.
Instead of adding yet another requirement, it might serve their constituents better if the government would just confirm these ride-shares are fulfilling their self-imposed obligations.
As a rule, any employer dealing with transporting the public should be vigilant in their use of background checks. A thorough search of where an individual has lived, worked or even attended school should be the basis of any comprehensive screening program. A background screening provider can help you get the most out of your program, and ensure you get the most accurate, consistent and compliant information available.
Employment Background Investigations is a technology driven leader in domestic and global pre-employment background checks, drug testing, occupational health screening and I-9 compliance. We specialize in development, implementation and management of customized employment screening programs for large and multi-national clients. We are dedicated to information security. EBI is the only NAPBS Accredited background screening company in the world to hold both an ISO 27001:2005 certification for information security and an ISO 9001:2008 certification for Quality Management.
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