Uber hit with $10m bill over inadequate US driver checks
Uber has agreed to settle a multi-million dollar lawsuit brought by two major Californian cities, which claimed it carried out inadequate background checks on drivers.
Uber has admitted no wrongdoing as part of the settlement, but has agreed to pay a civil penalty of £7 million. And it will have to pay a further £10m if it does not comply with the terms of the agreement over the next two years.
Prosecutors acting for the cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco had filed a consumer protection lawsuit against Uber in December 2014, alleging the company misled consumers about the service’s safety. They said an investigation had found that more than 20 drivers with criminal records had been hired by Uber, including a convicted murderer.
Prosecutors said Uber’s background checks only went back seven years, and were inferior to those faced by regular taxi drivers in the cities. Uber also does not run fingerprint checks on its drivers, though taxi drivers have to provide these.
One driver, who carried out more than 1,000 journeys for Uber, had spent 26 years behind bars for second-degree murder, but had applied to Uber using a false name. Prosecutors said they had also found unlicensed drivers working for Uber along with those convicted other offences including drink-driving.
An earlier investigation by the Los Angeles Times discovered four drivers working for Uber who would have been prevented from driving a taxi because of their criminal record.
San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon (pictured above) said: “The result we achieved today sends a clear message to all businesses, and to start-ups in particular, that in the quest to quickly obtain market share, laws designed to protect consumers cannot be ignored. If a business acts like it is above the law, it will pay a heavy price.”