Since rolling onto the scene five years ago with its easy-to-use, personal transportation app, San Francisco-based Uber shook up the traditional taxi cab industry. The company’s service (employing a roster of drivers using their own vehicles who respond to texted ride requests) quickly caught on and the company began to grow. Earlier this year, however, the negative publicity began to outweigh the positive following a report of an alleged kidnapping/sexual assault and an assault involving two separate Uber drivers in California during the same week. There have been other reported incidents as well, including an Uber driver in Chicago accused of sexually assaulting a female passenger and a tragic motor vehicle accident in San Francisco in which a 6-year-old girl was struck and killed by an Uber driver, alleged to be at fault, who had a decade-old reckless driving conviction on his record.
Could a thorough background check program have prevented these crimes and the negative publicity impacting Uber’s reputation? Former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s security screening firm, Giuliani Partners, recently conducted an independent strategic review of Uber’s background check process. In the time since the incidents occurred, the company has taken some key steps to meet its rapidly growing needs and ensure the all-important safety of its end users. Chief among these was switching to a third-party, centralized background check team which reportedly works closely with Uber’s regional team.
In a post to the Uber website (https://blog.uber.com/giuliani) about his firm’s report, Mr. Giuliani states that Uber’s screening process is much more thorough than that of many companies conducting background checks in the taxicab industry. The company, which is slated to complete an astounding 2+ million background checks of potential drivers in 2014, has a background check process which includes a review of driving records for the currently licensed state, a social trace to identify current and prior addresses, a multi-state criminal record review, a county criminal check for all counties in which the driver resided for the past seven years, and a review of Federal criminal cases for all District courts where the driver resided for the past seven years.
Congratulations to Uber for instituting a new thorough driver screening process and for considering the safety of its passengers as paramount.