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

Daniel MacEachern dmaceachern@thetelegram.com
Published on February 16, 2016

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

 

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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