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It’s not uncommon for businesses to perform criminal background checks on potential employees. They’re a great way to screen out people who may not be a good fit for the company, outside of posing financial and physical risks. And, in fact, many professional driving positions require an employee driving record check to ensure that they have a consistent and safe history of driving. So why have so many applicants at Uber become upset over their rejections?


Chris C. was disqualified from driving for Uber after they ran a background and employee driving record check and discovered two criminal convictions. Despite the fact that they were both relatively minor (one for possession of a fake I.D., and the other for theft), they also occurred over 20 years ago when Chris was just 19 years old. These convictions had never barred him from other jobs, and he had already been driving for Uber for two years without a problem.


After getting no concrete information from Uber, Chris took to the Internet for answers. He found a slew of subreddits and specialty forums created by people experiencing the same confusion: variations on his situation cluttered the forums — frequently with contradictory anecdotes –, each individual expressing their frustration with the ride-hailing service.


One easy way to solve these problems would be to set rules and expectations on the criminal and MVR background checks, yet many ride-sharing companies have been less than transparent about their policies. As a result, nobody can be sure just what passes and what doesn’t.


Ironically, Uber and other companies like Lyft don’t require DOT drug and alcohol tests, urine drug tests, or any form of verification that you’re not a drug abuser. Government studies show that drug abuse is common in one out of every six employees, so how can Uber expect to place such stringent restrictions on minor offenses that happened decades ago if there’s no way to tell that a person they approved may be an alcoholic?


Many of these ride-hailing companies say they want to help build a more inclusive workforce where workers set their own terms, but also want to keep their customers safe. With such a muddled understanding of the legalities surrounding the criminal background checks, both of those aims seems to be contradicted.