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Thursday, September 5, 2013

Broadway Cab Facing Steep Fines for Driver's Alleged Homophobia

Posted by Dirk VanderHart on Thu, Sep 5, 2013 at 5:24 PM

It's been a busy couple weeks for the Oregon Equality Act of 2007, and a rough patch for an allegedly homophobic Broadway Cab driver.

Ahmed Egal already had his taxi license pulled for allegedly kicking a lesbian couple from his cab on the side of Interstate 84. Now, Broadway Cab faces an investigation from the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) for his alleged conduct.

According to a news release, the bureau will look into whether the cabbie refused service to the couple, Shanako DeVoll and Kate Neal, on the basis of sexual orientation. The women say that's exactly what he did on July 25.

When he saw the couple holding hands, the complaint alleges Egal began yelling "You can't be gay in my cab!" and "Being gay is bad!" A friend who was riding with the couple tried to end the situation by asking Egal to end their ride. The cabbie attempted to drop them off on the of the highway, and they asked that he pull over somewhere more safe, the complaint says. He continued along I-84 and called 911, claiming the party was trying to get out of its fare.

Eventually, Egal pulled over near I-84 and 102nd, and another Broadway Cab pulled up behind. After discussing the situation with Egal, the second driver refused to take the couple and their friend anywhere. According to the complaint the party was "forced to climb over the side of I-84, over a wall, through bushes, over a fence."

They caught a ride home with a cop who was looking into Egal's 911 call.

The city's already fined Broadway $1,000 for not promptly responding to the couple's complaints. The BOLI investigation could result in a much stiffer penalty. Just last week the agency fined North Portland tavern the Twilight Room Annex nearly $400,000 under the Equality Act of 2007 for asking a group a transgender women to stop coming in. That money will be paid out to the 11 people who were discriminated against, in increments ranging from $20,000 to $50,000 per person, BOLI says.

And BOLI is still using the equality law to investigate Gresham bakery Sweet Cakes, which refused to make a wedding cake for a lesbian couple in February. The bakery has since closed its doors.

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