Uber Technologies, Inc., the company behind popular ride-sharing service Uber, has been sued in the Southern District of New York for allegedly violating anti-discrimination laws via its use of background checks. The class action suit alleges that Uber illegally discriminated against drivers with criminal histories and bad credit. As a result, numerous drivers were deprived of the ability to drive for Uber without warning and without a rationale given.
The Facts in the Case
The principal plaintiff in this case is a black resident of New York who drove for Uber between 2014 and 2020, who had a single misdemeanor speeding violation from Virginia from 2013. Until 2017, the plaintiff said he had no issues driving for Uber, who had relied on a background check from the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission. Then, starting in 2017, Uber switched to a credit reporting service called Checkr, which was hired to conduct additional background checks on current and future drivers. In 2020, Checkr uncovered the speeding violation, and one day later, Uber allegedly suspended the plaintiff.
The Alleged Violations by Uber
The suit alleges that Uber and Checkr violated both the New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL) and the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Under the NYSHRL, while a company can inquire about an employee’s criminal history, they must provide certain disclosures and documents, and they must give an employee an opportunity to explain their criminal history. And, as of January 11, 2020, this policy also applies to independent contractors, as well as employees. Additionally, under the FCRA, an employer must obtain permission from an employee to perform a credit check on them, and must inform them of any adverse action taken against them due to a credit check.
According to the plaintiff in this case, Uber failed to perform any of the required disclosures under either the NYSHRL or FCRA, and did not obtain permission from its employees to perform credit checks against them. In addition, the suit alleges that Black and Latino drivers may have been disproportionately impacted by Uber’s change in policy. It estimates that around 80,000 drivers might fit into a class that was discriminated against by Uber’s improper use of background checks.
The Possible Implications of the Lawsuit
If the case succeeds, it could put pressure on employers throughout the country who do business in New York State and use background checks for employees and job applicants. It is increasingly common for companies of all types to screen employees for both a criminal history and bad credit, negatively impacting their ability to find and retain lawful employment. Employees have a right to know what information is being sought about them by their employers, and to defend themselves against accusations of wrongdoing.
If you have gotten into a legal dispute with your employer, it is important that you seek the guidance of an experienced New York employment lawyer who can protect your legal rights and advocate on your behalf. Steven Mitchell Sack, the Employee’s Lawyer, is a New York employment lawyer with more than 40 years’ experience handling the many aspects of employment law. To schedule an appointment with New York City employment lawyer Steven Mitchell Sack, call (917) 371-8000 or visit his contact page.