Thousands of Uber and Lyft drivers have been denied jobs because of stricter background checks. Now, some former drivers say Massachusetts has gone too far.
"I've put in my time with this country, and I just want to work," Gareth Mannion, a former Army veteran, said. "People make mistakes, but they shouldn't be affected by those mistakes 24 years later."
Mannion says when he left the Army in 1994, he fell on hard times. At one point, he was convicted of attempted arson. He served a year and was placed on probation for nine years.
"Haven't been in trouble since," said Mannion.
Mannion drove for Uber and Lyft for four months. However, he's now banned from driving in Massachusetts, as well as in neighboring states. Mannion appealed, but lost his case. He says what he found most frustrating was on the same day he was awarded his driving certificate from the state to drive again, he found out via email from the state he was banned from driving.
"I was shocked," said Mannion.
Mannion supports stricter background checks, but he argues the current rules go too far.
"We're all independent contractors," he said. "So we're not collecting unemployment."
State officials would not comment when asked about Mannion's case, but the did say the Department of Public Utilities, which has jurisdiction over ride hailing services, has until November to finalize the rules governing ride hailing drivers.
Gov. Charlie Baker told NBC Boston the stricter background checks were agreed upon by both Uber and Lyft. They're designed to ensure passengers are safe. But he acknowledges the system isn't perfect.
"We are now in the process of putting in place final regulations in place, and those are out for public comment,” Baker said.