Massachusetts Background Check Laws Receive Pushback from Uber and Lyft

At the end of 2016, Massachusetts passed the strictest background check laws in the country for ride-sharing employees of Uber and Lyft. Now those laws are getting significant pushback from representatives of both organizations in the state after losing thousands of their drivers.

Provisions of the law required that all by April 2017 all drivers undergo the new vetting procedures. The result was 8,200 drivers losing their jobs. The vetting procedures mandated that drivers:

  • pass state background checks
  • are not registered sex offenders
  • clear a search of their criminal records

Proponents of the law are encouraged by the fact that at least hundreds of these drivers were discovered to have a history of serious past violent and sexual crimes, proving that the companies’ previous background check practices were not sufficient. But detractors are critical as many of the banned drivers were either convicted of crimes decades ago, had committed minor road offenses that had resulted in license suspensions, or had not received convictions at all but had settled. The provisions have left these drivers with limited options for appealing the decision and reclaiming their jobs.

What Do Ride-Sharing Companies Want?

Both Uber and Lyft have made statements regarding amendments to the provision that they hope will be considered before the Department of Public Utilities (DPU) crafts final rules regarding their vetting practices.

  • Drivers who have agreed to a type of settlement called “continuance without a finding,” which is not a conviction due to lack of evidence, cannot be disqualified.
  • Background checks should not extend back further than seven years for certain violations.
  • DPU should not have the power to disqualify drivers who have not failed the background check, in which DPU makes a decision that the individual is “likely to act” in certain dangerous ways based on subjective determinations.


Is there a way to simultaneously protect passengers of ride-sharing cars while also addressing ban-the-box-type provisions for background checks? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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