Uber sure knows how to stay in the news – and usually not for the right reasons. Over the last few years, Uber has caused a series of scandals and controversies due to the brash behavior of its executives, a series of lawsuits launched by drivers who claim they weren’t being compensated fairly, for killing a pedestrian with one of their self-driving vehicles, and even for possibly breaking the FTC’s anti-spam laws. This week, the latest Uber headlines come by way of Uber reversing a recent policy which removed drivers who had drug-related convictions from the Uber app, essentially ‘firing’ them. Thanks to a lawsuit launched by a group of (formerly) banned drivers, those drivers have been reinstated.
In April of 2018, Uber began preventing drivers from using the app if they had drug-related convictions which violated a Delaware law preventing drug offenders from driving professionally. However, that policy didn’t just affect Uber drivers in Delaware. Four drivers in Philadelphia who were removed from the app over past drug convictions hired a lawyer who argued that Uber’s policy went against a Pennsylvania law which says people with drug convictions over seven years old cannot be barred from work based on those convictions.
The visibility of that case was boosted thanks to the notoriety of one Uber driver, Thomas Daniels, who was removed due to drug convictions which were over 20 years old. Daniels received a commuted sentence from President Barack Obama in 2016 along with 60 other non-violent drug offenders. Daniels was barred from driving for Uber in March due to the Delaware law, but has now been reinstated.
Uber has now reversed its drug conviction policy – but only outside of Delaware. Uber spokesperson Danielle Filson says “currently affected driver-partners will be reassigned in our system so that they can make pickups exclusively in the states where they meet the background check requirements. We are constantly reviewing our practices and procedures to enhance compliance and safety.”
Should drivers with past convictions be able to drive for Uber?