After eight long years of consideration, the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations has ordered a Philadelphia taxicab company to pay a fine of $500 for refusing to transport a gay couple in January 2009. Philadelphia’s non-discrimination laws prohibit the discrimination of anyone on the basis of sex, race, religion, or sexual orientation.
The plaintiff in this case states that he and his partner were ejected from a cab they hailed at Philadelphia International Airport after he briefly kissed his partner on the top of his head. The cab driver witnessed the kiss and became angry, telling them they could not do that in his cab. He pulled over and ordered them to get out of the taxi. The couple was left on the curb of a nearby taxi stand while the driver rode away so furiously that the back door to the cab remained open.
The plaintiff filed the discrimination suit within one week of the 2009 incident, yet the final decision wasn’t handed down by the Commission until December 2017. On average, discrimination lawsuits of this nature take six months to two years to resolve. Officials at the Commission office said that several issues resulted in the delay, but they would not provide any specific reasons.
Though the monetary outcome of the lawsuit was minor, the implications for Philadelphia cab drivers is huge. The Commission found that the discrimination was based on the sexual orientation of the cab driver’s customers and was, therefore, in violation of Philadelphia’s anti-discrimination laws. The fine was secondary to the precedent it set that Philadelphia taxicab companies are indeed responsible for the discriminatory actions of their employees.
The Commission also required the taxicab company charged in the lawsuit to provide training to all drivers on anti-discrimination laws. Drivers must be trained on the laws and regulations set forth by the Commission on Human Relations regarding discrimination, and what actions violate these laws. The training must include discriminatory actions based on race, religion, and sexual orientation.
Upon investigation, it was found that the cab driver who ejected the gay couple from his taxi is still a certified taxi driver in Philadelphia. While no longer employed by the company for whom he was working at the time of the incident, he is still able to drive a cab in the city. The plaintiff in the lawsuit has since relocated to Washington, DC.
The experienced team of Philadelphia civil rights lawyers at Williams Cedar are staunch advocates for victims of discrimination. Our legal team helps clients that have endured racial, sexual, religious, age, and sexual orientation discrimination claim the justice and compensation to which they are entitled under the law. Call us at 215-557-0099 or 856-874-7500, or contact us online to schedule a consultation today. Our offices are conveniently located in Philadelphia and Haddonfield, New Jersey and we serve clients throughout Southeastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and nationwide.