It seems like I am writing about Uber a lot lately. It bothers me because the goal of this blog is never to call out or shame companies. I do, however, want to teach you how to protect your business. Fortunately, or unfortunately, Uber is proving to be a good case study by providing so many teachable moments.
I think the first time I wrote a blog on Uber the company was being accused of not conducting background checks on their drivers. Critics claimed that by not checking criminal history, dangerous people could sign up to cart vulnerable passengers around town in their personal cars.
So Uber started using a background screening firm to look into drivers’ lives. Now the company is being accused of going overboard, aggressively using background checks to terminate employees without complying with state and federal laws.
The named plaintiff in a proposed class action suit is Abdul Kadir Mohamed. He worked as an Uber Black driver which means he is a licensed chauffeur driving a company-owned car. It’s Uber’s answer to the traditional limo service. Mohamed decided he wanted to become an UberX driver. To do so, he went out and bought his own car so he would comply with the UberX requirements.
After buying that car, Mohamed says he received an email from the company doing Uber’s background checks saying that they could no longer employ him because of information in his consumer report. Mohamed also claims that right around the same time he was cut off from the Uber app that connects drivers with passengers.
Mohamed and his attorneys accuse Uber and its screening partner of making at least three serious mistakes:
They did not properly notify Mohamed that they would be using background reports to make employment decisions.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires employers to disclose that they are going to do a background check, and they need to get written authorization from the employee or candidate. That disclosure must be in its own, stand-alone document.
Uber didn’t give Mohamed a Pre-Adverse Action notice, a copy of the report, and a summary of his rights under the FCRA or time to correct or explain negative items on his report.
All four of these items are required under the FCRA. Neglecting to do any of them is a violation and can put your company at risk for a lawsuit.
Mohamed wasn’t notified that the company was conducting a credit check.
Under California state law (where Uber is headquartered) employers must notify the applicant in writing that the check will be performed. They are also supposed to tell them who is pulling their credit and give them a chance to request a copy of the report.
The lawsuit claims the company “knowingly violated” these state and federal laws. There is no way to say at this time whether any of this was intentional or just a result of growing too fast.
Another thing that is unclear… how did Uber make these mistakes while working with a background check company? While screening companies can’t write your company policy, they can, and should provide guidance and resources for complying with the FCRA.
A good screening partner will have a strong compliance department. It will provide you with all of the necessary forms and offer training on how to use them. The right company will help you manage the entire process. It is up to you, however, to make sure your conduct a yearly compliance review, looking at all forms and processes. You should also consult with your legal counsel on a yearly basis to make see if anything needs to be updated.
Complying with the FCRA is not a suggestion, it is the law.
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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