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Poor Uber can’t win. After consumers blamed it for a spate of alleged rapes and hammer assaults by its drivers, the ride-sharing company tightened up its background checks — and now a driver’s lawsuit that seeks class-action status says the way Uber runs those checks is against the law.
In a lawsuit filed on Monday in San Francisco, former Uber driver Abdul Mohamed claims that the company violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act by using his consumer credit report to terminate him unfairly.
According to Mohamed, he spent $25,000 to acquire a car and began work as an Uber X driver in October. Shortly after, Uber cut off his access to the company’s phone app for drivers, and sent him an email stating the decision to fire him arose in part because of information obtained on his credit report.
The upshot, in the words of the lawsuit, is that Uber’s use of the credit report to fire him “deprived him of his livelihood and left him without an alternative means of providing for his family, including his seven children.”
The lawsuit also alleges that Uber made the decision to terminate because “the consumer reporter indicated he had a minor criminal record that, in fact, stems from his seven children receiving much-needed Medicaid benefits.”
As the suit points out, Uber’s use of credit reports to inform hiring decisions is not uncommon (though the New York Times and others have been very critical of the practice).
The issue with Uber is instead that the company is allegedly skipping steps that are intended to give workers a fair shot about knowing, and responding to, allegations raised in the credit reports. Specifically, the lawsuit claims that Uber failed to instruct a company called Hirease, which runs background checks on behalf of employers, to send Mohamed “adverse action” notices.
The lawsuit, which also claims that Uber violated credit reporting laws in California and Massachusetts, asks the court to order Uber to pay thousands of dollars to former drivers and would-be drivers across the country.
Uber, whose disruptive business model has also made it a target for numerous lawsuits by the taxi industry, did not immediately reply to an email request for comment about the case. Here’s a copy of the complaint:
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