Taxi discrimination target of easier complaint system

WASHINGTON (WUSA9) - Tuesday, the DC Office of Human Rights (OHR) announced a collaborative effort with the DC Taxi Commission to collect and investigate complaints against taxi drivers that discriminate using a joint online complaint form and dual agency response.

The action comes after a year-and-a-half long WUSA9 investigation.

Click here to see complaint form:

"Those who discriminate against passengers because of their race or disability must know we will not tolerate it," said OHR Director Monica Palacio in a statement. "Our new complaint process makes it easier to file."

The joint taxicab discrimination complaint form lists protected classes ranging from age and color to race and sexual orientation.

Officials say passengers who believe they've been refused service because of race, disability, or other protected status can now use the one complaint form for joint investigations and possible fines from both agencies.

Of 42 cabs WUSA9 tested last year nearly half left our undercover wheelchair or service dog using passengers on the street to pick up an able bodied passenger, charged them unauthorized fees, or dropped them off at the wrong destination without telling them.

"The series of investigations conducted by WUSA9 played a significant role in prompting OHR's investigation into DCTC's record of discrimination complaints filed through their system," said Stephanie Franklin, OHR communications officer. "Evidence from WUSA9 reports also helped to give us ground in recommending more robust tracking of these complaints."

In a December 2012 test, about 33% of cabs with lighted taxi for hire signs passed our undercover black passengers, while zero passed the white undercover reporter.

The new system means a cab could face penalties from the taxi commission of $500 bucks each, plus penalties from the Office of Human Rights which doesn't have any cap on the maximum potential fine, meaning a proven violation could potentially cost a cabby in the tens of thousands or more.


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