Abandi Jamal Kassim, a cab driver from Leicester, U.K., is being charged with approximately $750 in fines, compensation and court charges after he refused a ride to a blind couple.
Charles Boch and his girlfriend Jessica Graham had booked a ride with a cab company, ADT Taxis, in July last year. Kassim arrived at the pickup point but refused to allow the couple’s guide dog into his vehicle, stating it was “against his religion.”
“For me, it’s about my religion,” said the cab driver. But Bloch countered his statement, telling him that not allowing the guide dog into the taxi was “against the law.”
“It's against the Disability Act of…1998,” he said.
The two men got into a battle of words as Graham recorded a video of the incident on her phone.
Kassim called the cab company, asking them to send another car for Boch but he refused to have any other vehicle pick him up.
“No, I don’t want another car. I want this car,” he insisted.
The cab driver looked perplexed and appeared to be changing gears before driving away.
“If you drive away, I’ll sue ya,” the visually impaired man said as Kassim zoomed off.
The Leicester City Council, the licensing authority for taxis and private hire cabs in the city, learned of the incident after it was shared on social media, and Kassim was called before the city magistrate.
Admitting to a breach of the Equality Act 2010, the cabbie has now been fined approximately $750 in fines, compensation and court costs.
“You refused to carry out a booking that had been made by a disabled person and the reason you gave was because they were accompanied by a dog. That is an offense under the Equality Act because taxi drivers and private hire drivers cannot refuse to take a fare from somebody on the basis that they have an assistance dog with them,” said prosecutor John Moss.
Kassim admitted to the court that at the time of the incident, he was unaware of the law but also went on to admit his offense. He also added that he was scared of dogs following an incident in the past and apologized to the visually impaired couple.
The cab driver is no longer employed with ADT Taxis and the company also apologized to the pair.
In the meantime, Kassim whose taxi driver's license expires in October, is now required to attend a hearing of the council's Licensing Enforcement-Sub Committee, on a date to be confirmed, where he will find out whether the permit will be withdrawn.
Check out the complete video of the incident in the link posted above.
Banner/thumbnail credit: Reuters