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Uber Relaxes Screening Requirements For California Drivers

By tweaking the criteria of its background checks, the ride-hailing app will no longer bar nonviolent criminals from driving.

Uber Relaxes Screening Requirements For California Drivers
[Photo: Flickr user Christopher Cook]

Uber has long been criticized for its seemingly lax background checks. Last year, prosecutors argued that the ride-hailing app had employed 25 California drivers with criminal records—one of whom had spent 26 years in prison for a second-degree murder conviction.

Now the company is intentionally easing up on its screening requirements, to give nonviolent criminals a chance to become Uber drivers, the Wall Street Journal reports. Uber will continue to deny prospective drivers convicted of sexual or violent offenses, as well as felonies or misdemeanors perpetrated from behind the wheel.

"This is an opportunity for us to engage with the community," Joe Sullivan, Uber's chief security officer, told the WSJ. "We should all be in favor of giving everyone a fair chance."

Uber is also striving to be more transparent about its process, by telling applicants with a criminal felony conviction why they are being rejected and how they can decrease their sentence to a misdemeanor. The company will recommend them to organizations like Defy Ventures, which empowers former inmates through entrepreneurship training.

Per the WSJ:

Uber plans to contact applicants it rejected in the past for a felony conviction and give them the same information. Eventually, Mr. Sullivan said he hopes some of those people would successfully reapply for a job with the company.

As Fast Company wrote last year, Uber is still one of the few sharing economy companies that requires any type of official background check. Airbnb, for example—featured on Fast Company's February cover—largely depends on peer reviews and social profiles to ensure the safety of its users.

[via Wall Street Journal]

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