City Wide Taxi fined $5,000 for refusing rides to woman with service dog

Daniel
Daniel MacEachern
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A St. John’s taxi company has been fined for its drivers’ refusals to serve a woman with a service dog.

The provincial Human Rights Commission issued a decision Feb. 8 that City Wide Taxi discriminated against Anne Malone, after the visually impaired woman was refused service by three separate taxi drivers.

The commission’s board of inquiry has ordered City Wide to pay Malone $5,000 in compensation and undergo training on ways to accommodate people with disabilities.

“There are laws in this province that clearly protect individuals from this type of discrimination, and no person with a disability should have to experience a situation like this,” Carey Majid, the commission’s executive director, said Tuesday in a statement issued by the provincial Department of Justice and Public Safety.

“Hopefully this decision will raise awareness and prevent a similar incident from happening in the future.”

The decision involves an April 2013 incident when Malone approached a taxi stand in downtown St. John’s with her service dog. Two drivers wouldn’t take her fare and a third drove away as she approached.

Donna Strong, the commission’s legal counsel, said the case for discrimination is less about the refusal of service than the taxis being unable to accommodate Malone some other way. In this said Strong, one of the drivers said he has an allergy to dogs and another was concerned about the dog dirtying his new car.

“If a person legitimately does have an allergy, there can be accommodations,” said Strong, adding that the taxi company has a duty to look after its employees as well, and that may involve accommodating a driver with, for example, an allergy or a fear of dogs.

“It’s about a process, and having a policy and recognizing that there’s a need to accommodate both.”

You can’t just outright refuse someone, said Strong.

 “You have to find another cab for them, or to have a process at least in place where there is a cab provided in short order if the person who’s first approached can’t provide the service.”

Malone could not be reached for comment. City Wide owner Peter Gulliver did not return calls.

 

The Telegram

 

Previous story:

City Wide Taxi fined $5,000 for refusing service to woman with service dog

A St. John’s taxi company has been fined for its drivers’ refusals to serve a woman with a service dog.

The provincial Human Rights Commission issued a decision Feb. 8 that City Wide Taxi discriminated against Anne Malone, after the visually impaired woman was refused service by three separate taxi drivers. The commission’s board of inquiry has ordered City Wide pay Malone $5,000 in compensation and undergo training on ways to accommodate people with disabilities.

“There are laws in this province that clearly protect individuals from this type of discrimination, and no person with a disability should have to experience a situation like this,” said Carey Majid, the commission’s executive director, in a statement issued by the provincial department of Justice and Public Safety today. “Hopefullly this decision will raise awareness and prevent a similar incident from happening in the future.”

 

dmaceachern@thetelegram.com, Twitter: @DanMacEachern

Organizations: Human Rights Commission, Department of Justice and Public Safety

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Recent comments

  • Island girl
    February 22, 2016 - 00:11

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/city-wide-taxi-fined-discrimination-1.3450113 In this article from cbc it says after being denied services she call dispatch who apologized and offered to get her a cab but She refused. If she went to the taxi's lined up outside then these drivers don't talk to dispatch, they take the job on the spot and go. If she had to call the taxi and say I need a taxi for a passenger and a service dog then I am 100% sure they would have made proper accommodations to fit her needs. This is the same reason why they have wheel chair accessible taxi to help and not deny taxi services to people in wheel chairs. Also even tho Mr Guillver owns the city wide taxi name he don't own all the taxi's. There are a lot of drivers who own the car but pay the company to use the name. I am sure it could have been handled better on both sides. I also know for a fact those drivers has to keep the inside and outside of the taxi clean. If they arrive at the airport with a dirty car they will get sent out of line to go get it clean..just like the drivers are not allowed to wear Jeans driving. They have to dress proper. Maybe if she carried a blanket to put over the seat to protect it if the dog is dirty then this would not have happened. if the guy would have let the dog in the taxi and he/she got the seats all dirty then the next person who got in the taxi would be complaining about how dirty the taxi is. Or that driver would be out of work because they would have to get the taxi cleaned. Like I said if she or anybody for that matter who has any kind of special needs should call the taxi and find out how they can accommodate her. Not walk up to a driver and expect them to have the necessary accommodations. If they have 100 taxi's not all are the same.

  • Peter
    February 17, 2016 - 07:09

    It definitely should have been handled differently and better. I suffer from an extreme allergy to pet dander from either cats or dogs to the point where if I get exposed my eyes tear up to the point I cannot see and my breathing becomes obstructed. I knowingly try to limit any chance of exposure to pet dander. So, the complication to this story is not only to find accomodation to the needs of this fine lady but to also realise the complications that arise from accomodation for others.

    • Anne Malone
      February 17, 2016 - 10:47

      I completely agree with Peter's comment. I believe the solution is to have fragrance free, dander free vehicles to accomodate both drivers and passengers. These vehicles should have signage on the vehicle to identify them. People with animal allergies are allergic to the DANDER, and ANYONE who lives with an animal will (and often does) have dander on their person or clothing. Thus, an allergic reaction can occur even if no animal is present. Currently, only people with service dogs are being challenged in this way. To my knowledge, allergic drivers are not denying serviceEVERY customer who might expose the driver to dander. It is this singling out of a particular group that is discriminatory. Fragrance and dander free cars that are marked with signage protects drivers, passengers, and alerts EVERY potential passenger of the restriction. This solution is very common in major cities all over North America and Europe.

  • Fact Checker
    February 16, 2016 - 18:10

    The Service Animal Act says " 4. A person shall not (a) deny a person ... or (b) discriminate against ... for the reason *only* that the person is a person with a disability accompanied by a service animal." (Emphasis added) So, a person can be denied service if there are reasons other than the presence of the animal. The Act *only* eliminates the animal as the excuse for denial. If there are other issues at play and the service provider has other valid reasons, it is permitted to deny service. Anyone ever ask the taxi driver(s) the reason? Anyone ever inquire if the taxi driver(s) could use the loophole? Or, did people just jump to conclusions?

  • Drivers
    February 16, 2016 - 17:53

    What if the driver was allergic or the car was kept allergy irritant free? The driver should be abe to refuse ased on his disability rights. What if the driver was Muslim who fnd dogs ritually unclean? The driver should be able to rufuse based on religious rights? What I the customer never had the proper restraints to buckle in the dog? The driver should have the right to refuse unsafe or illegal work. A taxi is not like any other ordinary place, it is tight space with many extra legal regulations. I am sure the customer was, or could have been, serviced by another car without the above concerns. There needs to be a balance to rights. The Commission needs to be more sensitive. Hope this ruling gets challenged.

    • Ted
      February 17, 2016 - 18:31

      Let's call a spade a spade. This has nothing to do with allergies.... 3 drivers turned her down. Allergies are a convenient excuse. As for the dog in the vehicle being a danger to the driver because it is not secured...Well that's crap too. The vast majority of cab riders do not buckle up... So they are just as much of a danger to the cabbie as a dog. And I don't hear cabbies complaining about passengers who aren't buckled up. As for the cabbie being Muslim, tough! When in Rome.... This incident had nothing to do with allergies, religious rights, or safety. It was simply a few small-minded dolts who thought the were going to pull a fast one. Perhaps they should move to Spainard's Bay with the rest of the backward people who live here.

  • Celeste
    February 16, 2016 - 16:48

    Let's hope that City Taxi doesn't do anything like this ever again.

  • Wife of a cabbie
    February 16, 2016 - 15:20

    Just wondering why would City Wide have to pay not the drivers.Im not saying they didn't do wrong they certainly did,but shouldn't the drivers be the the ones fined,or did they take orders from the dispatch,I know my husband takes service animals all the time.