Blog

 
     

Massachusetts's Rideshare Background Check System Fails 15% of Applicants

By Michael Klazema on 2/21/2019

For some time after the emergence of Uber and Lyft in the transportation industry, ridesharing apps operated in a Wild West of minimal restrictions and little oversight. After a series of incidents, some fatal, involving ridesharing drivers, many states took up the mantle of regulation by adding mandatory background checks. While both Uber and Lyft formulated internal policies which they maintain are thorough and safe, some states, including Massachusetts, have gone further to protect passengers.

Massachusetts relies on a two-step vetting program for ridesharing applicants. First, a rideshare company conducts an internal background check on every applicant to examine records nationwide. Those who pass must then undergo a state-level background check, similar to those produced by backgroundchecks.com, but in this case, conducted by the state. Only drivers who pass both checks receive permission to accept fares through an app. 

In the past year, more than 200,000 drivers applied in Massachusetts. Of those, 30,000 were rejected by the state. 

Five thousand individuals were disqualified due to past violent criminal charges, and nearly 1000 were rejected for appearing on a sex offender registry. On the upside, 190,000 people received clearance to work. State officials tout this as proof that the system works and that it is helping to prevent members of the public from stepping into a car operated by a dangerous individual.

The two-step process highlights some potential deficiencies in Uber and Lyft's own programs. According to the Daily News of Newburyport, Lyft noted that some of its approved drivers were rejected because its vendor's reports only return about seven years’ worth of data. The state's system has no such time limit. 

Uber also pointed out that it was possible for criminal charges to appear on a person's record in between the two steps of Massachusetts’s process. In either scenario, the secondary state check acts as an important failsafe. 

As the current system churns through tens of thousands of applicants a year, some in the Massachusetts legislature have expressed their interest in making further tweaks to the system. Some believe the system does not go far enough; others want lighter restrictions. One bill would remove felony fraud from the list of disqualifying offenses, while another would require prospective drivers to submit fingerprints to the state. Those bills are pending. 

Ridesharing apps such as Uber and Lyft, considered a part of the gig economy, represent the growing trend in many companies towards relying on a workforce of independent contractors instead of regular employees. This shift can pose a challenge for any business concerned about safe hiring practices. 

backgroundchecks.com makes a robust contractor and vendor screening tool available, including a multi-jurisdictional criminal record search customizable to include additional reports. 


Tag Cloud
Categories
Recent Posts

Latest News

  • March 19 Care.com is a popular destination for individuals seeking nannies, day cares, babysitters, and caregivers. What many users don’t realize is that the company does not vet the caregivers on its site.
  • March 19 — Whether you are a job seeker looking for an hourly position or a business owner trying to structure an hourly employment strategy, you may be curious about which companies offer the best hourly jobs.
  • March 18 Background checks for jobs at banks are typically focused on finding qualified candidates with no history of finance-related crimes.
  • March 18 — A common misconception is that salaried positions are a cut above hourly jobs regarding overall earnings. While this belief is usually true, it can be misleading.
  • March 15 Community-serving organizations turn to backgroundchecks.com for reliable, detailed, and consistent employee vetting services. 
  • March 14 Adults working near children face increasing levels of scrutiny to maintain a safe environment. In some cases, these positions go unfilled—and some blame the process.
  • March 12 If a customer or client asks to see the results of an employee’s background check, can the employer share that information? Never without written authorization.
  • March 12 Utah legislators are considering a new bill that would automate much of the expungement process. Under the law, ex-offenders eligible for expungement would have their records automatically wiped clean.
  • March 07 — LightSpeed Communications is a company dedicated to bringing customers, businesses, and their communities into the new age of internet communications. Based in Michigan, LightSpeed has already made headway in bringing fiber optic networks to four of the state’s biggest cities. In this case study they describe how and why they use backgroundchecks.com for employment screening.
  • March 07 After more than a year of wrangling and debate, Virginia Beach's city council adopted a resolution affirming a requirement for background checks on food truck employees.