Background Checks for Drivers of Transportation Network Companies.

Governor Jerry Brown approved Assembly Bill 1289 on September 28, 2016 and confirmed that it would add new laws to the Public Utilities Code to further regulate Transportation Network Companies. The new California law, AB 1289 that takes effect Sunday, January 1, 2017 will require criminal background checks for drivers of Transportation Network Companies (TNC), regardless of whether they are an employee or independent contractor. A Transportation Network Company (TNC) is defined as “organizations and corporations that provide prearranged transportation services for compensation using an online-enabled platform to connect passengers with drivers using their personal vehicles.” Examples of TNCs include Uber and Lyft.

Under the law, background screening would consist of the following attributes:

  • Multi-state and multi-jurisdiction criminal records locator or other similar commercial nationwide database with validation
  • Search of the United States Department of Justice (USDOJ) National Sex Offender Public Website

The law would prohibit Transportation Network Companies from hiring, retaining, or contracting a driver who possess the following characteristics:

  • Registered on the USDOJ National Sex Offender Public Website
  • Convicted of a terrorism-related felony or other violent felonies specified in the new law
  • Convicted within the past seven years of misdemeanor assault or battery, a domestic violence offense, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or other felonies specified in the new law

Regulations set forth in the California’s Investigative Consumer Agencies Act (ICRAA) prohibit third party background screening companies from reporting records of an arrest, indictment, information, misdemeanor complaint, or conviction of a crime that, from the date of disposition, release, or parole, antedates the report by more than seven years. Transportation Network Company employers should prepare for this new law by revising their criminal background screening process and ensuring that their third party screening company is providing accurate information.

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