R.I. May Soon Require Background Checks for Taxicab Drivers

Background checks for contract employees are a difficult issue. On one hand, the employer hiring such individuals feels as if the workers should be responsible. At the same time, because legalities are within the hands of the worker and not its realm, such companies feel as if they should be absolved from responsibility when an associated contractor commits a crime on the job, be it theft or even murder; after all, the home or business owner takes a risk when using such services and inviting such a worker into his or her establishment.

Nevertheless, pedestrians looking to get from point A to point B shouldn’t have to deal with this, according to recent legislation proposed in Rhode Island. Earlier in March, Rep. Robert Jacquard proposed a measure for taxi cab companies to require background checks of their drivers. While existing background checks look at state records, the proposed screenings, once in effect, would look at national criminal history.

Getting to a destination, rather than personal safety, should be the passenger’s concern. Jacquard explained: “When passengers get into a cab, and they see the certificate allowing the vehicle to operate in the state, they assume their ride will be safe, not only in terms of the condition of the vehicle but also in regard to the driver.”

Employers, rather than the drivers, would be responsible for the screenings. Drivers of cabs, vans, and limos would be expected, per the Division of Motor Vehicles, to be investigated before legally being issued a chauffeur’s license.

Presently, Jacquard’s proposal still has not gone into effect, and he was scheduled to present it before the House Committee on Corporations earlier in March.

When it comes to contract workers and the self-employed who provide a service, who should be responsible for the background checks – the company managing the contractors, the employees themselves, or the individuals requesting the service?

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