Criminal Background Checks for Uber/Lyft Drivers in California (AB 1289)

Governor Brown signed AB 1289 into law.  This bill expands the scope of criminal background checks that Transportation Network Companies—or actors in the so-called “gig economy,” such as Uber and Lyft—must conduct before permitting anyone to serve as a driver, regardless of whether the driver is an employee or independent contractor.

The bill prohibits the Companies from allowing anyone who has been convicted of assault, battery, domestic violence, any violent felony, or driving under the influence to serve as a driver.  Companies who violate the law can be charged with misdemeanor, and fined up to $5,000 and three months in jail per violation.

Uber and Lyft drivers are presently classified as independent contractors without collective bargaining rights under the National Labor Relations Act, but in deciding cases pending before it, the National Labor Relations Board could find that drivers are misclassified and are in fact employees.  Recently, a local union delivered union cards signed by 14,000 New York Uber and Lyft drivers to New York’s Taxi and Limousine Commission.  Other activity on this front includes a recently filed petition to represent some additional New York Uber drivers, a discussion of an Uber “drivers’ association” in California, and Seattle’s ordinance allowing independent contractors to unionize.

For more information regarding AB 1289, please contact your labor law counsel. 

By Xochitl Lopez | October 4, 2016

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