Photo courtesy: YouTube
In a settlement filed on Thursday in the United States District Court in the Northern District of California, Uber agreed to pay at least $10 million, and possibly as much as $25 million, in a suit over driver background checks.
The cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco sued Uber in 2014 for misleading the public about the method is uses to screen drivers, advertising itself as the “safest ride on the road,” and calling its background checks “the gold standard.”
Uber does not fingerprint its drivers, as other taxi companies do, and instead relies on background checks carried out by a third party.
In February, Uber paid $28.5 million to settle two class-action lawsuits challenging its representation of its background checks.
San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón said his office discovered 25 instances of Uber drivers in San Francisco and Los Angeles having criminal backgrounds. Among them were sex offenders, identity thieves, burglars, kidnappers, and a murderer.
The suit also charged that some Uber drivers work at airports without the proper authorization and charge riders an extra fee.
The settlement requires Uber to make some policy changes, including the wording of its adverting and the fees it charges for airport rides, and to desist from operating in airports where it does not have permission. Uber will have to pay an additional $15 million if it doesn’t comply with the agreement within two years.
Uber has said it will spend more time researching advanced safety technologies for its drivers, such as biometric identification and voice verification.
“No means of transportation can ever be 100% safe. Accidents and incidents do happen. That’s why we need to ensure that the language used to describe safety at Uber is clear and precise. So we’ve agreed not to use terms like “safest ride on the road” or describe our background checks as “the gold standard,” Uber told TMR in a statement, noting also that “there is no admission of wrongdoing or liability on Uber’s part.”