On September 28, 2016, California governor Jerry Brown signed AB-1289 into law. This new law requires any drivers participating with a Transportation Network Company in California be subjected to mandatory criminal background checks, regardless of whether a driver is considered an employee or an independent contractor.
Under California law, a “Transportation Network Company” is an organization, including, but not limited to, a corporation, limited liability company, partnership, sole proprietor, or any other entity, operating in California that provides prearranged transportation services for compensation using an online-enabled application or platform to connect passengers with drivers using a personal vehicle. A “participating driver” or “driver” is any person who uses a vehicle in connection with a transportation network company’s online-enabled application or platform to connect with passengers.
Under the new law, a California Transportation Network Company will be required to conduct a criminal background check (local and national) for every potential driver, which must include:
- A multi-state and multi-jurisdiction criminal records locator or other similar commercial nationwide database with validation; and
- A search of the United States Department of Justice National Sex Offender Public Web site.
- In addition, the new law prohibits Transportation Network Companies from employing or contracting with any individual who:
- Is registered on the USDOJ National Sex Offender Public Website;
- Has been convicted of a terrorism-related felony or other violent felonies specified in the new law; or
- Has been 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.
- The new law goes into effect on January 1, 2017. It is recommended that all California Transportation Network Companies review their background check procedures and verify that they comply with the new law. To the extent that these companies use a third-party background screening company, it is recommended that these employers verify their third-party background screening company is searching the appropriate databases.