Bruce 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