California prosecutors say Uber missed criminal drivers

by Sean Riley

TicoTimes and NY Times

SAN FRANCISCO, United States — Prosecutors from California have accused global ridesharing service Uber of misleading customers and having lax background checks that let criminals drive for the firm, court documents show.

Prosecutors in San Francisco and Los Angeles claim they found 25 people with serious criminal histories driving for Uber in the state, including a murderer, a sex offender and an identity thief.

The company’s background checking process was riddled with “systemic failures,” they alleged.

“In Los Angeles alone, registered sex offenders, a kidnapper, identity thieves, burglars, and a convicted murderer had passed Uber’s ‘industry leading’ background check,” the prosecutors wrote in a complaint that seeks penalties against the company.

The drivers’ criminal histories only came to light after they were caught in other infractions while driving for Uber, the documents allege.

The company’s publicity, it said, was “likely to mislead consumers into believing that Uber does everything it can to ensure their safety and that Uber’s background check process will capture all of the criminal history of an applicant,” the complaint said.

It said the allegedly “misleading representations” were particularly dangerous given that many California parents send their teenage children unaccompanied with Uber drivers.

Uber treats its drivers as independent contractors, and has generally fewer contract obligations surrounding them then typical cab companies. [MORE]