Blind Man With Guide Dog Receives $2,500 Settlement From Taxi Company

Man and guide dogBruce Gilmour, a blind Vancouver man, was refused by a taxi driver who did not want his guide dog in his taxi. Due to this incident, the taxi company, North Shore Taxi, has reached a $2,500 settlement with Gilmour.

Last November, Gilmour hailed a cab from a coffee shop. The taxi driver, Behzad Saidy, a Muslim, refused to drive Gilmour and his guide dog, a golden retriever named Arden. Saidy said he drove a no-pet cab.

Gilmour said that Saidy later told him that his religion prevents him from interacting with dogs on the basis that they are “unclean.”

This Vancouver man filed a human rights complaint, alleging discrimination. He explained that he was tired of defending his dignity.

Last week, he reached a settlement with the taxi company. This decision will try to balance to rights of blind people with guide dogs to obtain cab service with the rights of a Muslim cab driver to follow his personal and religious beliefs.

Gilmour will donate part of the money he receives from the settlement to the Az-zahraa Islamic Centre and to B.C. Guide Dog Services. They will likely get $500 to $700 each, he said.

Under the terms of the settlement, North Shore Taxi was ordered to immediately establish a policy prohibiting any driver to refuse service to a blind person accompanied by a certified guide dog.

The only exceptions are for drivers allergic to dogs and those who satisfy the company that they have a religious belief that precludes them from transporting certified guide dogs.

If drivers are not able to transport guide dogs due to those reasons, the drive must call dispatch for the next available cab, give their name to the person, and wait with them until the next taxi comes.

Drivers that do not follow this policy will be suspended for two shifts for a first offense and be subject to termination for a second offense.

Blind people will not be required to inform dispatch of their disability.

“It’s a landmark in my life,” Gilmour said. “This is not binding with any other cab company, but if a person in White Rock or Coquitlam winds up in the same situation, my case will now raise the bar.” He said he has been fighting discrimination since 1985 when he got his first guide dog.

Gilmour has had arguments with drivers who have refused to allow his dog in the car and has been passed by cabs as he waits on the curb. “I’m humiliated and frustrated and it’s an awkward position having to go into defending your rights because you’re blind,” he said.

A spokesperson for B.C. Guide Dog Services stated that Gilmour’s situation and experiences are all too common among people with guide dogs.

Source: Vancouver Sun

22 Responses to “Blind Man With Guide Dog Receives $2,500 Settlement From Taxi Company”

  1. janet says:

    this has been going on here at the Minneapolis St. Paul airport. If the muslims don’t want to transport guide dogs, they should get a different job. They also refuse to transport liquor so if somebody arrives at the airport with a bottle of french wine, they have to wait for a different cab.

  2. nora says:

    I consider this taxi cab driver UNCLEAN and think he should be returned to the country of his origin to deal with his own so we do not have to interact with his unclean behind. He proved himself lower than the dog as a living being.

  3. straybaby says:

    interesting about the religious angle. the Muslims around me love my dog and allow her in their stores etc. one even wanted a picture with her to send to his family!

    i have had taxi trouble transporting dogs because they aren’t purse sized or service dogs, but i’m surprised in this day and age a blind man would have a problem with a guide dog.

  4. Radcliff, Allie, Luna, & Ozzie says:

    We’re a bit concerned about a couple points, though.

    First off, we’re a bit puzzled why he’s giving part of the money to an Islamic Center. (Maybe he could donate the money in honor of his guide dog, to see if this Center will still accept it)

    Second, having drivers refuse to transport a guide dog is now an accepted part of the operations at North Shore Taxi, and likely other companies.

    Who really won this suit?

  5. pat says:

    well i’ll be dipped! i never knew about this particular interpretation of Islamic law. what i don’t understand is why the driver did not immediately have the dispatcher send another cab and explain that having a dog in his cab presented a serious challenge to his religious beliefs. Check out this excerpt from Wikipedia:

    “… many Islamic teachers state dogs should be considered unclean and that Muslims licked by them must perform purification. According to Hadith, anything a dog touches must be washed seven times, the final time in dust. Some religious traditions hold that if a dog passes in front of someone preparing to pray, that it pollutes their purity and negates the prayer.”

    if this driver is a devout adherent to this particular belief, one can see why he’d be reluctant to have a dog in his taxi. this might seem very strange to me (and it does), but i imagine that i have beliefs that seem pretty strange to the followers of Islam, too. if we can’t amicably solve these types of misunderstandings, what hope do we have for tackling the major issues that threaten peaceful co-existence worldwide?

  6. Velvet's Dad says:

    I’ve got a problem with any religion stating that “(all) dogs are unclean.” One could just as easily state “all redheads are unclean” or “all people with facial hair are unclean.” The point is . . . it’s a sorry state of affairs when a belief blankets every member of a group or singles out an entire group for discrimination. It’s plain bigotry, and it’s plainly ignorant. The cab company, rather than buying into ignorance and condoning (in effect) a form of discrimination, should fire the drivers who refuse to transport a protected class of people, or anyone for that matter unless the individual (not a group) presents a real danger to the driver. This same driver could refuse a Muslim woman who did not “properly” cover herself on the so-called grounds of his religious beliefs. Should we let this pass? Religions, pardon the pun, are not sacrosanct. Not as long as we keep ourselves free from theocratic government and the inherent body of discrimination that such government allows and fosters.

  7. eh says:

    “Last week, he reached a settlement with the taxi company. This decision will try to balance to rights of blind people with guide dogs to obtain cab service with the rights of a Muslim cab driver to follow his personal and religious beliefs.”Last week, he reached a settlement with the taxi company. This decision will try to balance to rights of blind people with guide dogs to obtain cab service with the rights of a Muslim cab driver to follow his personal and religious beliefs.”
    (…)
    “Under the terms of the settlement, North Shore Taxi was ordered to immediately establish a policy prohibiting any driver to refuse service to a blind person accompanied by a certified guide dog.”

    “The only exceptions are for drivers allergic to dogs and those who satisfy the company that they have a religious belief that precludes them from transporting certified guide dogs”
    (…)
    No victory here, just a surrender to fundamentalist (i.e. true) Islam. The dog -loving Muslims that “straybaby” refers to are modern, secular Muslims who probably aren’t all that religious

  8. Gary says:

    Discriminating against the innocent, seems to be a common theme among certain types lately.

    And,

    Again, America takes yet another step downward into stupidity by allowing stuff like this in OUR home country. I say that in context of America opening her arms to all and gets kicked in the teeth by the ingrates and unfair advantage seekers.

  9. Jenny Bark says:

    I agree with all of you. Imo America is in deep trouble all we need is a king, I’m sorry forgot we already have one. Whatever happened to our laws being followed?
    I didn’t know this was part of being Muslim. I keep learning more & more from this site. I don’t think any one but the taxie driver won on this one. Our laws should be followed or you should be fired. I am not against any religon but if you can’t do your job & follow your religon than go work some place else.

  10. CJ says:

    This muslim needs to return from where he came from. This religion of his about animals is a bit far fetched. He came here…..you don’t like it, leave. Personally I think the cab company should of fired him…..remind me never to hail a cab from the North Shore Cab company.

  11. Lynne says:

    This kind of religious stupidity reminds me of the devout christian pharmacists who refuse to fill birth control prescriptions. I’m not a fan of any religion at all, especially when their precious beliefs cause harm and consternation to others. Good for the blind fellow for speaking out and refusing to be treated as a second class citizen.

  12. Traci says:

    http://www.islamicconcern.com/dogs.asp

    http://personal.uncc.edu/jvanoate/k9/k9inrel.htm

    I am suggesting the above links for anyone interested in the background about this and what Islam actually says about dogs–not what religious nuts say it says.

  13. mittens says:

    unlike dogs in muslim cultures, cats are actually considered clean animals who are often seen wandering around and living in mosques. they do not even ‘render the ablution waters unclean’.( the main objection at the base of this being that dog hair and saliva would render one unclean for prayers.)

    the reverence for the cats as opposed to dogs most likely has it’s basis in the pagan religious beliefs that proceeded islam (mecca was a goddess worship site. same stone. but the goddess was named Allat. coincidence?)-in eastern based religious cults cats had a much higher visibility as being associated with divinity. dogs were seen in the desert as scavengers/carrion eaters -jackles. cats were kings ie lions and mother goddesses ie Bast. the negative feelings toward dogs are culturally based. in all probability there was also an acknowledged higher risk of disease transferable to humans from dogs just as eating poorly cooked pork can lead so easily to illness- thus the prohabition against eating it.dogs like pigs and shell fish are scavangers. you’re also more likely to find rabies in a dog.

    muslim cab drivers are also refusing to allow people who have alcohol with them into their cabs-meaning not if you’re drinking a 40 ounce in a paper bag- but that if you came back from napa valley with a case of wine you’re not getting in their cabs.many airports sell duty free alcohol- it’s a common purchase of people getting cabs out of airports. i suppose one must hold the pork rinds too.

    there are many different interpretations of ‘ muslim law’-most are actually cultural prejudices encoded in the ‘religious’ writings( the hadiths) that amassed after the writing of the koran and well after anyone allegedly associated with mohammad was long dead. genital mutilation, the covering of women head to toe in body bags( in the koran, hijab only is mentioned for the prophet’s wives), killing/hating the jews,( in the koran they are like christians considered ‘ people of the book’ ie the bible which is recognized by islam) and honor killings of alleged immoral wives, daughters and sisters do not appear anywhere in the Koran but all are oft sited as part of muslim religious law we in the west must be culturally sensitive to. even if the koran does say it’s a muslim’s duty to kill the nonbelievers it doesn’t make it alright to do when you live in the west under the secular laws of our countries.

    it’s an underhanded way to sneak sharia law masked as ‘ religious tolerance’ into the west where it has no business being- but you’re culturally insensitive if you dare protest. you’re being non-inclusive. let me assure you, there is absolutely no religious tolerence of non-muslims in places like iran and saudi arabia. the man would be better off contributing the money to an animal shelter in someplace like egypt (they exist usually run by westerners) or a relief organization that helps those who are the victims of ‘ muslim law’ or a site such as dhimmi watch. many leading proponents and teachers of so called ‘ reform islam’ have encoded racism,antisemitism, the killing of homosexuals by stoning and the enslavement of women into ‘law’ . while munificent and surely well intended as an olive branch of cross-cultural friendship and understanding, the man’s donation of his settlement is ill -considered . it naively plays into the hands of those who want all the jews and ‘ heathens’ dead ,all christians made second class citizens under a global caliphate and all women wrapped in a garbage bag if theyre allowed out at all. none of it, no matter how apparently minute-like not wanting a dog in a cab-can be tolerated.it’s truly the slippery slope to wahhabism which will cheerfuly wash all your rights away with the sword.

    if the cabbie refused a black passanger and claimed it was ‘ against his religious beliefs’ to do so, would anyone contribute their court settlement money to both the NAACP and the KKK or Aryan Brotherhood? i think not. what if he refused someone he thought was a jew? in iran a law was once passed that said that jews couldn’t go outside in the rain least the water that touched them would accidentally touch a muslim. this was a law passed by religious therefore political leaders- not just some random kook in a cab getting bitchy.( pun intended). there is nothing random at all about the more extreme ‘beliefs’ of SOME muslims- they are laws in some countries.

    people may say that the koran and the hadiths say this or that and it means this or that but unfortunately for us all the ‘ religious nuts’ far out number and are louder than the tolerant, respectful muslims .and theyre more importantly politically powerful(in islam you cant seperate the secular political from the religious. islam demands that society is run along religious principles as set down in the hadiths and the koran). millions of humans live under islamic religious dictatorships we would consider insane, inhumane and brutal. i’m a pagan sufi ,among other horrible things, so im pretty much down for being killed by stoning( a practice taken from the jews actually who lived in the areas inhabited by mohammad and his followers). the freedoms and priviledges of the west are being manipulated and used against us for a purpose. we must not allow our democratic principles to be exploited to enslave our society to an oppressive religious doctrine with more nuts and weapons then you can imagine and liberally funded by billions upon billions of saudi oil dollars.

  14. Rose says:

    This is an eroding of the Americans with Disabilities Act. People with disabilities, are forced to have a life of limitations because of their physical disibility, it’s a sad thing for our county that all disabled people are not treated with compassion and kindness.

    As someone pointed out, in the very LEAST the cab driver could have explained his reasons, offered to call dispatch for an immediate replacement cab and allowed the man to either sit in cab with door open and dog outside to insure his safety or stood outside with him till the replacement cab arrived, thus insuring that the replacement cab went to the disabled man. A truly compassionate person would have offered to pay the cab fare of the man for the replacement cab ride to make up for the delay.

    A pro-active cab company would have a policy in place where it is mandatory for their employees who have religious restrictions to have the cab company pay for the replacement cab to make up for the delay and to help treat disabled people with the dignity they so deserve.

  15. Lynn says:

    Traci,

    Thanks for the links - very enlightening. Someone would be wise to put Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl in touch with the cab company trying to find a way to make the two factions [service dogs and Muslim cab drivers] live in harmony. No need, it would seem. Instead, the REAL issue is to educate the Muslims about fact vs. folklore.

  16. elizabeth says:

    Please note this occurred in Canada. I want to believe the ADA in USA would have prompted much stronger action against the cab co, but who knows——there’ seems to be a lot of crazy stuff and accommodation going on these days.

  17. Traci says:

    Lynn,

    Yes, I know of the dog issue–was told of it many years ago by my sister-in-law who loves the saluki (the only “clean” dog in Arab culture) and has had a couple. I did do some googling to find out exactly what is behind this. The specifics, not just assuming. It is interesting to read up on other religions and the disagreements within them. I would say if someone fears dogs for whatever reason that is their right and right to avoid them as much as is legally possible (but they also have to decide to live by the laws of the land they occupy–in this case, the rights of those with disabilities and needing care animals trumping other laws banning dogs on buses and restaurants and groceries etc.) So don’t be a taxi driver if you are just going to pass people up because of your beliefs–where does that end? Don’t be a pharmacist if you are going to deny people lawful medical care (without a backup pharmacist who will help immediately instead of you) deemed appropriate by a licensed doc. Your religion, fantasies and phobias (I personally don’t think they are necessarily one and the same although at times the latter two often get the status of the former) trump the civil and orderly functioning of a nation that was founded on the principle of rational goverment rather than religious. Anyway, that’s kind of my soapbox.

    Mittens, I think your post was a great addition and agree with most of it except for
    “people may say that the koran and the hadiths say this or that and it means this or that but unfortunately for us all the ‘ religious nuts’ far out number and are louder than the tolerant, respectful muslims”

    I really don’t know how you PROVE the “far out number” part. Most Muslim countries (and those from which many Muslims immigrate) are repressive tyrannies and kingdoms that merely use the name “Islamic” to legitimize themselves before populations often kept in deliberate uneducation, superstitious fear, poverty, and ignorance as well as being fed outright distortion of Islamic belief by what education is allowed. Those that disagree (who knows how many) fear to speak up lest they receive even “death to the West” etc. is great propaganda for both those tyrannical goverments and the foreign governments who use the images to show how backwards they (all) are and why the West needs to intervene in their affairs and culture (ironically, such intervention leading more Muslims to turn to fundamentalist radical groups because those groups happen to be anti-West. I don’t know how you prove the number of those too afraid to say what they think until they are allowed to opine without dire consequences.

    Also, to Eh, secular Muslim doesn’t mean not very religious. Secularism does not negate religious devotion but limits how you apply religion in your life and in society, the authority and place you give religion to govern and interfere as opposed to civil law. Just because someone is very religious, doesn’t mean they are unable to question and to discard what they find inconsistent or archaic with what they regard as the core message of their faith.

    Here are some more links I came across that I liked:

    http://fromcairo.blogspot.com/.....islam.html

    http://www.submission.org/pets/dogs2.html

    http://forpeoplewhothink.org/A.....Islam.html

    http://kendensar.info/Islamic_attitx.html

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saluki

    Since the issue regarding dogs is in Hadith and not Quran, explanations of what is Hadith:

    http://i-cias.com/e.o/hadith.htm

    http://www.uga.edu/islam/hadith.html

  18. Traci says:

    Editing my post–wish I had caught this bad in the 5 minutes time:

    “Those that disagree (who knows how many) fear to speak up lest they receive even “death to the West” etc. is great propaganda for both those tyrannical goverments”

    Should read “Those that disagree (who knows how many) fear to speak up lest they receive even torture or death. Government sponsored/sanctioned mobs yelling “death to the West” etc.”

    I did bad copy deleting as I was putting down my thoughts. :(

  19. Jenny Bark says:

    Traci, thanks for all your links. I have always felt sorry for American Muslims with everything that has been going on but now I don’t think I feel the same way. I do know that I would never trust my dogs or cat with them (even a friend). I don’t like the way at least a lot of them feel about dogs. My dogs & cat, after they get to know you & decide they like you will give anybody a kiss and all have the run of the house. Today was the first I ever learned about this part of Muslim reglion & it makes me sad that in 2007 that some people can still believe this way about dogs.

  20. Jenny Bark says:

    Change of topic for just a sec before I go to bed. In case some of you might of missed it you might like to read
    Sheba Shetton’s post Aug.19th at 9:17. It is under Wal-Mart removes bestro chicken jerky strips after dog death, Aug.17. Her 1 dog died & 1 is sick. She has talked to China & the FDA. Another one of us to feel for.

  21. Cathy says:

    I am sick and tired of hearing about so-called religious people that do not have respect for other people and their beliefs. It makes me glad that I do not believe in organized religion anymore. You don’t have to have belief in a religion to have respect for others.

  22. Mark says:

    Has it not occurred to any of you that this is just further anti-Musim support war on terror/Iraq war/lets invade iran propaganda???


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