The Los Angeles and San Francisco district attorney offices have threatened ride-sharing companies Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar with legal action after claiming the companies are operating illegally and present “a continuing threat to consumers and the public.”
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the two district attorney offices say their joint investigation into the ride-sharing companies uncovered several violations of California law.
“We value innovation and new modes of providing service to the public,” San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon said, per the Chronicle. “However, we need to make sure the safety and well-being of consumers are adequately protected in the process.”
The district attorney offices warned in letters sent to the companies that legal action could be taken if no major changes are made. Uber and Lyft have not yet publicly responded to the letters, while Sidecar shared its letter with the media. Sidecar CEO Sunil Paul called the allegations “shocking and baffling.”
“We think their claims are incorrect and their assertions that we are operating illegally are simply incorrect,” Paul told the Chronicle.
According to the report, the district attorney offices found four main problems with the operations of the ride-sharing companies. First, the attorneys argue that the companies are misleading customers by promising that driver background checks will catch individuals with driving-related offenses and criminal histories. In June, San Francisco D.A. George Gascon prosecuted an Uber driver accused of assaulting a passenger. The driver, 28-year old Daveea Whitmire, had passed the company background check, even though he had been convicted on felony drug charges and a misdemeanor battery charge.
Second, the attorneys claim that the companies’ new, so-called “shared ride” service, in which customers can carpool with others going the same direction and split the cost amongst themselves, is a violation of state law. The district attorneys want the companies to stop offering the service.
Uber and Lyft face two more allegations: the failure to submit themselves for regulation under the Department of Food and Agriculture’s weights and measures division, and the failure to secure permits for picking up and dropping off customers at airports.
All three ride-sharing companies must respond to the letters by Monday and meet with representatives from the district attorney offices by October 8th, or else risk legal action.
Uber is facing plenty of problems of its own, some international in scope. Last week, an Uber driver in Orlando was arrested after inappropriately touching a female passenger.
On Friday, a Berlin regional court upheld a city-wide ban on Uber, saying the company was obligated to ensure the safety of its passengers. The service could be banned in all of Germany if a lawsuit by a German taxi association is successful.