Uber Vetting Issues - Documentation Screenings Flag Transgender, Nonbinary Applicants

Uber is facing another controversy with its background check and documentation processes. The latest criticism is that Uber’s ridesharing background screening disproportionately flags would-be transgender or gender nonbinary drivers. These claims have led to criticisms that the Uber background check is discriminatory and unfair and have even led to an investigation from the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office.

According to the Santa Monica Daily Press, Uber has been accused of practices that have “prevented some transgender and nonbinary people from being drivers or food deliverers by deeming their identification documents to be fraudulent.” Those claims have prompted both the attorney’s office and “other municipal prosecutors” to push Uber on releasing more details about how it vets and verifies its prospective drivers. Mike Feuer, a Los Angeles City Attorney, said in a statement that Uber “tries to talk a good game when it comes to LGBTQ equality,” but noted that his office has “serious questions about whether [Uber] is failing transgender drivers.” Feuer added that the attorney’s office plans “to find out if reported incidents” of transgender discrimination at the hands of Uber “are isolated mistakes or part of a larger pattern that locks some transgender drivers out of rideshare opportunities.”

Per the Santa Monica Daily Press article, Feuer is working with the city attorneys of both San Diego (Mara W. Elliott) and San Francisco (David Chiu) to press Uber for more information about how and why its policies might be disproportionately impacting prospective transgender drivers. In a letter to Uber, the three pointed to a Los Angeles Times article from December, which reported that Uber sometimes barred transgender individuals from driving for the company if photos and information displayed on government-issued driver’s licenses didn’t match names and more recent photos that reflected gender identify. 

“Uber at times has blocked transgender and nonbinary people from driver and delivery jobs by treating their documents as fraudulent, suspending their accounts, and failing to rectify the situation, according to interviews with drivers and documentation provided by the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California,” the Los Angeles Times reported.

In their letter to Uber, the three city attorneys asked Uber to disclose information about its background check policies, its fraud prevention protocols (“including other policies involving photo or name verification”), alternative options that transgender or nonbinary drivers can pursue when a traditional photo or name verification is difficult or not an option, and policies for allowing transgender or nonbinary drivers to display “their chosen photo and name to the public.”

In a statement responding to the letter, Uber claimed that it was working to address the issues that transgender and nonbinary drivers have faced. Among other things, the company acknowledged that “the name and photo on [a driver’s] ID does not always reflect their true identity, and we take their concerns seriously.” Uber also said that it had “developed a process, with input from the National Center for Transgender Equality, that enables drivers to display their chosen name in the Uber app.”

Uber background check policies have been criticized for partly relying on artificial intelligence in the past. Those checks can sometimes lack nuance, which can result in candidates being disqualified unfairly. While it isn’t clear whether Uber’s process for verifying a driver’s name and photo, that explanation might shed some light on why transgender and nonbinary candidates have been wrongfully flagged for fraudulent documents. At backgroundchecks.com, we believe firmly that keeping a “human touch” in the background check process is vital to ensure the most accurate and fair results. Not only do we take care in assembling your background check reports, but we also provide a bevy of background check resources to help you review that report critically and thoughtfully.

Whether you need assistance with a ridesharing background screening process or any other type of pre-employment background check, we are here to help. Contact us today to learn more.

Michael Klazema

About Michael Klazema The author

Michael Klazema is Chief Marketing Technologist at EY-VODW.com and has over two decades of experience in digital consulting, online product management, and technology innovation. He is the lead author and editor for Dallas-based backgroundchecks.com with a focus on human resource and employment screening developments.

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