More than 8,000 Uber and Lyft drivers have had their ride-sharing license denied under new stricter background check laws in Massachusetts, reports the Boston Globe. Most of the denials are due to license suspensions or drivers not driving long enough to qualify.
The new law, which went into effect in January, requires drivers to undergo two background checks, one from the company and one conducted by state government. Of 70,789 applicants, 8,206 have been rejected. Beyond the suspensions, hundreds reportedly had "serious crimes" on their record, including violent or sexual offenses. Many were also rejected for drunk driving infractions.
Part of the reason for the mass rejection was the state has the ability to dig deeper into a driver's past than companies. “Under Massachusetts law, Lyft’s commercial background check provider, like all consumer reporting agencies, is legally prevented from looking back further than seven years into driver applicants’ histories,” Lyft said in a statement. “The state does not face the same limitation, which likely explains why a small percentage of our drivers failed the state’s background check while passing ours.”
Uber previously agreed to a multimillion settlement following allegations that they misled customers about the thoroughness of their background checks. Nonetheless, the company reacted strongly to Wednesday's news, saying the new rules prevent some drivers from getting work to put their lives on a new path. “Thousands of people in Massachusetts have lost access to economic opportunities as a result of a screening that includes an unfair and unjust indefinite lookback period," Uber said in a statement to the Globe. "We have an opportunity to repair the current system in the rules process so that people who deserve to work are not denied the opportunity."
The state struck a much different tone than Uber on Tuesday. "Massachusetts has set a national standard for driver safety and we look forward to future partnerships with Uber, Lyft and others to grow this innovative industry and support more jobs and economic opportunities for all," said Governor Charlie Baker. Massachusetts is not the only state that has begun implementing tighter regulations on the ride-sharing industry.
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