The ride-sharing company Uber is in serious hot water after one of their employees in India was accused of raping a customer. Shiv Kumar Yadavwas arrested by Delhi police on December 7th and brought to court the next day. It doesn’t look particularly good for him. Not only did the victim identify him publicly, but the prosecution has 44 witnesses and forensic evidence. It also appears that he might have faked the certificate that got him his taxi permit.
Why is Uber in trouble? Well, India does not smile on companies that hire people who rape random women. Yadav had been accused of the exact same crime in 2011, on top of possibly faking his credentials. Yet Uber hired him. When New Delhi authorities found out about the previous accusation, they banned the company from the city.
Could places in America ban companies that hire criminals? Probably not, but the bad publicity alone from such a sordid crime could prevent states from legalizing share-riding companies. It will certainly make any woman needing a ride think twice before using Uber.
In the meantime, Uber and other share-riding companies have been fighting laws that would mandate that they do the same background screening as taxi companies. They helped convince lawmakers in Colorado to loosen background checks for drivers, and they helped kill a bill in California that would have required those checks. This does not instill much confidence in consumers. They claim they vet their drivers completely, but this case in India indicates otherwise. A thorough background screening would have prevented Yadav from becoming a problem for Uber. A small investment in checking his criminal background would have saved them the New Delhi market.
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