N.J. cab co. agrees to provide anti-discrimination training to drivers

Bryan Cohen Oct. 6, 2011, 12:41pm


TRENTON, N.J. (Legal Newsline) - New Jersey Attorney General Paula Dow and the Division on Civil Rights announced a settlement Thursday with a cab company resolving allegations of discrimination.

Yellow Cab Company allegedly discriminated against a blind man by refusing him and his guide dog a ride to a casino. As part of the settlement, approximately 600 cab drivers who work in Atlantic City will undergo training provided by the division focusing on the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination and the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, as well as their individual obligations as cab drivers under both laws.

The training effort will be mandatory for Yellow Cab employees and is being coordinated with the Atlantic City Department of Licenses and Inspections.

The settlement resolves a complaint filed by Thomas R. Schierioth of Atlantic City in the wake of alleged disability-based discrimination that occurred twice on the same day on July 10, 2010. Schierioth, who is regularly assisted by a guide dog due to his blindness, allegedly contacted the company, asking to be picked up at his home. When the taxi arrived, Schierioth alleged that he tried to enter the cab with his guide dog and was told by the driver "no dog, no dog." The driver then allegedly drove away. Schierioth got to his destination by other means, but contacted Yellow Cab seeking a ride home several hours later. Schierioth alleged that a different Yellow Cab driver arrived in response to his call but the result was the same, with the driver refusing service and driving away. Schierioth later reported the incident to the Mercantile Association of Atlantic City and filed a complaint with the division in September 2010.

"The alleged actions attributed to the Yellow Cab employees in this case are troubling," Dow said. "They are taxi drivers, and they reportedly denied transportation to a blind person who was accompanied by a guide dog to assist with his disability. We are committed to ensuring equal access for all persons."

As part of the settlement, Yellow Cab made no admission of wrongdoing.

The cab driver training will be provided over a period of three weeks in October. The training began on Wednesday and will run through Oct. 26. Training will take place in the Casino Control Commission headquarters building and will be provided by the division's Assistant Director Philip Freeman and Community Relations Coordinator Esther Nevarez. While a major focus of the training will be on the handling of persons with disabilities who require a guide or service dogs, all areas of unlawful discrimination and harassment prevention will be discussed.

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