Pando

Your monthly helping of serious ridesharing allegations

By Nathaniel Mott , written on June 1, 2016

From The Sharing Economy Desk

You’d think Uber might start taking background checks a little more seriously.

Several of the incidents that happened in the last month occurred because the company didn’t do a thorough background check of the people it allows onto its platform. And even if that wasn’t enough of an issue, it turns out that many strippers have to go through harder vetting processes than Uber drivers, according to a report from Jezebel.

Since when should it be harder to legally bare your body in front of strangers paying you to do so than it is to drive people around, learn where they live or work, and have the ability to kidnap them by keeping a foot on the gas pedal?

Maybe that’s how Uber should appeal to new drivers. “Driving for Uber: Easier than taking off your clothes.” Bonus points if the company manages to sneak “pay for med school!” in there.

Anyway, on to the monthly collection of things that should make anyone think twice before hailing a ride through Uber. (Once again, even though this is supposed to focus on major ridesharing companies, I wasn’t able to find any incidents that had to do with Lyft drivers.)

Uber drivers behaving poorly, to say the least

May is ending with the news that a former Uber driver named John Sanchez, who was accused of sexually assaulting a woman in April, has been arraigned for allegedly raping multiple women before he started his stint with the ride-hailing company. CBS8 reports that Sanchez videotaped the rape of a 13-year-old girl and is said to have tapes showing three other unidentified women.

On May 26, an Uber driver named Sukhwinder Gill said that he had lost control of his vehicle when he ran over a cabbie with whom he was said to have been arguing. Gill has been released on bail with the condition that he meet with police twice a week and surrender his passport.

Just a day earlier, an Uber driver in South London was accused of ranting about his belief that homosexuality is “disgusting and vile” and “not normal.” His passenger, Lewis Peters, is gay. Peters has said that Uber suspended the driver from its platform while it investigates the incident.

That same day, two men who are thought to be Uber drivers stopped traffic in London, emerged from their respective Priuses, and fought each other while blocking traffic around them. Someone eventually broke up the fight, and Uber told Mirror that it’s taking the issue seriously and trying to determine whether or not the drivers actually find work through its platform.

On May 20, Kalamazoo shooter Jason Dalton was escorted out of his trial after an outburst -- during which he started “raising his voice, talking about people ‘with black bags’ and talking incoherently” -- caused one of his surviving victims to break down on the stand.

Also on May 20, an Uber driver in India was accused of falling asleep at the wheel. The passenger later said on Facebook that he had to move the driver to the passenger seat and drive the vehicle home. Uber asked the passenger for more details about the incident so it could look into everything, and offered to refund his trip.

Uber driver Jonathan Hemming was arrested on May 18 after he tried to kill two police officers. Hemming is said to have an “extensive criminal record” -- he has a felony record related to “crimes like weapons possession, arson, armed robbery, burglary, cocaine possession, vehicle theft and malicious destruction of property” in three different states -- that Uber didn’t catch.

On the same day, an Uber driver convicted of raping a 25-year-old woman in 2014 had his bail plea denied. The driver, Shiv Kumar Yadav, received a life sentence for the sexual assault.

Another Uber driver, this time at the University of Delaware, was arrested for choking and punching a passenger with whom he had an argument on May 17. It’s not clear what started the argument. The victim was treated at the Christiana Hospital emergency room and released.

Data showed that Uber drivers were the cause of 32 sexual assault claims over a 12-month period in London. According to the Independent, that’s more than one-fifth of the total claims made against the transportation industry, and it means an assault happens every 11 days. Uber defended itself by saying its drivers are licensed and its trips are electronically recorded.

A former Seattle cop who was fired from the force after multiple women complained that he stalked them was accused on May 10 of kidnapping a woman while working as an Uber driver. The man was said to have driven a woman around her neighborhood for over an hour while talking about crimes he investigated despite numerous pleas to drop her off at her house, and when he finally did that, he kissed her on the lips and asked her to give him her phone number.

The trial of an Uber driver in Mexico has begun. The driver was accused of raping a female passenger who fell asleep in his vehicle on May 1. He then drove her to her destination, stole her purse, and kicked her out of the vehicle. Uber said it is working with police on the investigation.

Uber passengers being regular assholes

This section is much shorter. We’ll start with the Land Transport Authority warden who got in a fight with an Uber driver last year. He was jailed for a single day and fined a total of $2,000.

On May 26, an Uber driver in Los Angeles was stabbed in the back after he got out of his vehicle to open the door for his passengers. “Some guys” approached him and asked for money; they stabbed him when he tried to get back in his vehicle. The driver plans to continue working for -- sorry, with -- Uber but he says he will no longer exit his vehicle when he’s picking up passengers.

Just over a week earlier, on May 18, a Florida man threatened to inject an Uber driver with HIV if he didn’t drive him around Boca Raton. He also stole the man’s wallet and phone. The passenger, Matthew Francis, was arrested after he was found with the syringe and the driver’s belongings.

Finally, on May 4, UCLA football player Ishmael Adams pleaded no contest to charges of misdemeanor battery of an Uber driver. He will “serve three years of informal probation with several other requirements and conditions including anger management and psychological counseling.”