Haunted by the Past: A Criminal Record Shouldn’t Ruin a Career

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Atlantic – By Alex Bender and Sarah Crowley

Too many applicants, particularly people of color, are being denied jobs based on background checks that are irrelevant or even inaccurate.

In the past year, alleged assaults on passengers by Uber drivers in San Francisco, Chicago, Boston, and other cities have called into question whether Uber’s employment screening procedures are keeping their customers safe. As allegations of driver misconduct mount, a growing consensus has emerged: Private background checks are not good enough. Uber, like most companies, currently screens job applicants using background checks run by private consumer reporting agencies (CRAs). These checks are compiled through manual searches of local court records.

Recent lawsuits, including one brought by prosecutors in California, have proposed that Uber could improve its background checks by fingerprinting job applicants and accessing criminal history information from the California Department of Justice (DOJ) and FBI criminal history databases. Unsurprisingly, the Taxicab, Limousine & Paratransit Association, whose members compete with Uber and are themselves subject to fingerprint-based screening, also supports this proposal. And now, even members of the U.S. Congress are demanding that companies like Uber adopt fingerprint-based background checks.

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