On Uber’s New Background Check Policy

Statement of Christine Owens, Executive Director, National Employment Law Project, regarding Uber’s announcement today in San Francisco revising the company’s California criminal background check policy:

“Today’s announcement by Uber, that it is implementing a new criminal background check policy in response to litigation brought by the San Francisco and Los Angeles district attorneys, fails fundamentally to protect the very workers it claims to back.

“While Uber is offering new options for workers with certain offenses to qualify for employment, such as legal services for Uber applicants to have certain offenses reduced to misdemeanors under California’s Proposition 47, the company continues to fight in federal court in San Francisco to deny its drivers the basic rights guaranteed to all workers by federal and state consumer laws regulating criminal background checks for employment (Gillette v. Uber Technologies).

“Uber has also failed to indicate whether it will recognize their workers’ right to enforce federal civil rights protections against unfair criminal background checks, as detailed in the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s landmark criminal background check guidelines.  In 2014, San Francisco expanded on the EEOC’s standards with its Fair Chance Ordinance, which created an independent complaint procedure to hold violators accountable.

“Uber drivers with a criminal record will continue to suffer unfair treatment, and other taxi service companies that do comply with the law will be disadvantaged as well, if Uber persists in trying to dodge basic background check protections guaranteed to workers by federal, state, and local laws, including the right to hold the company accountable before government agencies and the courts.

“Uber cannot have it both ways:  it cannot claim that it is advancing the employment rights of people with criminal records at the same time it is aggressively challenging the very laws designed to hold employers accountable to standards of fairness.

“While there are features of Uber’s new policy that are improvements over its previous policy, it remains a far cry from what’s needed to ensure fairness in the criminal background check process.”



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