A Colorado's regulatory agency has fined Uber's parent company $8.9m (£6.7m) for allowing people with criminal records, driving records and those without licences to work for the taxi app.
A release from the state's department of regulatory agencies' public Utilities commission (PUC) said that the fine related to 57 drivers "who should not have been permitted to drive for the company." The offence spans the last year and a half, the commission said, adding that the company had been fined $2,500 (£1,900) for each day a driver who should not have been allowed to work did.
The commission said that the investigation was started after a driver was accused of assaulting a passenger and transport enforcement staff started to cross check Uber's driver records.
According to the investigators, the company had allowed people with felony conviction, serious driving convictions and some who simply did not have a valid driving licence, to drive for them.
"We have determined that Uber had background check information that should have disqualified these drivers under the law, but they were allowed to drive anyway," PUC director, Doug Dean, said. "These actions put the safety of passengers in extreme jeopardy."
"PUC staff was able to find felony convictions that the company's background checks failed to find, demonstrating that the company's background checks are inadequate," Dean said. "In other cases, we could not confirm criminal background checks were even conducted by Uber."
A spokesperson for Uber disputed the agency's story, saying that the company had discovered "a process error" and "proactively notified" the PUC. "This error affected a small number of drivers and we immediately took corrective action," the spokersperson said.
"Per Uber safety policies and Colorado state regulations, drivers with access to the Uber app must undergo a nationally accredited third party background screening. We will continue to work closely with the CPUC to enable access to safe, reliable transportation options for all Coloradans," the spokesperson added.
Colorado law states that companies like Uber must perform background checks on potential drivers, including criminal history checks and licence checks that may lead to the driver being disqualified.
In one example offered by PUC, a "habitual offender" who had previously escaped from a correction facility became an Uber driver after being released from prison.