Judge: Fine Cabbie $25,000 for Turning Away Black Passengers

NEW YORK (AP) -

A taxi driver may have to pay $25,000 after a judge said the cabbie refused to pick up passengers because they’re black, passing them over for white riders while they watched.

Cabbie Baqir Raza “discriminated based on race and color” when he turned away Cynthia Jordan and her two daughters in October 2013, Administrative Law Judge Richard Kramer wrote in recommending the fine last month. It’s subject to city Human Rights Commission approval.

Jordan, an accounting executive, and her adult and teen daughters were trying to get to a family birthday party when they spotted Raza’s cab in midtown Manhattan. They testified at an administrative trial in February that the cab’s “available” light was on, but Raza told them he was going off duty.

Then Raza picked up two white women just 25 feet away, they said.

“‘Are you kidding me?’” Jordan ran up and exclaimed, she testified. “When someone just doesn’t want to pick you up because of what you look like, it’s not a good thing for my daughter to see. [To] have to deal with things like this is not right.”

Raza claimed the white women simply got in when another rider got out. But his own trip log showed the dropoff and pickup were about two minutes apart, and he admitted violating city taxi rules against unjustly refusing riders and paid a $200 fine.

Complaints about race-based taxi refusals have percolated for years. Hundreds of cabbies were accused of refusing passengers based on race, gender or other improper factors in an undercover crackdown a decade ago.