Colorado Fines Uber over Driver Background Checks

By Michael Klazema on 11/29/2017

Uber’s embattled background check policies got one of their toughest rebukes yet in the form of a fine from the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC). According to a recent press release from the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies, PUC formally issued a Civil Penalty Assessment Notice against Uber on November 20th.

Per reports, the CPAN was sent to Rasier, LLC, the parent company under which Uber operates. The $8.9 million involves Uber’s driver background check policies. PUC claims Uber failed to prevent “individuals with disqualifying criminal or motor vehicle offenses, or without valid licenses” from taking on driving roles with the company.

The PUC began investigating Uber’s vetting practices earlier this year, coverage notes, on the recommendation of the Vail Police Department. Vail Police informed the PUC officers had arrested an Uber driver accused of assault by a passenger. Uber drivers across the country and around the world have been implicated in assaults, rapes, and other crimes over the past half-decade, usually against their passengers, so the PUC decided to delve deeper to see why Uber background checks weren’t preventing these incidents.

Looking back through a year and a half of records, the PUC looked for other instances where Uber might have put passengers at risk. Reports specify the commission cross-checked Uber’s background check reports with records from other background check sources, including county courts and the Colorado Crime Information Center. The PUC ultimately came up with a list of 57 Uber drivers who should have been disqualified based on their criminal backgrounds. Some drivers had felony convictions, including violent crimes and sexual offenses. Others were driving despite records that included DUIs, DWIs, reckless driving charges, and suspended or revoked licenses.

Colorado law requires Transportation Network Companies to run both criminal history checks and driving record checks on their drivers, coverage notes. Candidates with certain offenses are barred from driving with TNCs. Since the PUC found some of these offenses in the records of existing Uber drivers, and since Uber is a TNC, Uber owes a Civil Penalty for violating state law. PUC Director Doug Dean said Uber’s failure to spot red flag offenses jeopardized the safety of passengers and proved that the company’s background screening practices are “inadequate.”

Per reports, the PUC calculated the CPAN fine by billing Rasier $2,500 per violation per day. For every day a disqualified driver worked for Uber, the company got a $2,500 fine for that driver’s account. The total of $8.9 million breaks down to about $156,000 per disqualified driver.


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