Today, D.C. taxi drivers and their Washington, D.C. Metro Area Taxi Operators Association filed a class action lawsuit against the District of Columbia over an unfair, two-tiered system that gives a competitive advantage to ride services like Uber, Lyft and Sidecar over taxi operators.
The lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia by the plaintiffs, D.C. taxi drivers and their taxi association, which is affiliated with Teamsters Local 922 and represents more than 2,000 D.C. area taxi drivers.
The lawsuit asserts that the D.C. Council, by enacting the "Vehicle-for-Hire Innovation Amendment Act of 2014" in November, violated the taxi drivers' rights to due process and equal protection under the law.
D.C. taxi drivers are held to stringent licensing requirements, regulations, restrictions and costs for operating taxi services that are not required of ride service providers under the legislation. The lawsuit seeks relief from unequal enforcement of the law.
"I've been driving a cab in D.C. for more than 35 years and this is how I make my living. I work hard and I have never in my life asked for special treatment. So why should ride service companies get special rules and deals handed to them by the D.C. Council? It's not fair and it's not right," said Eartha Clark, a plaintiff in the lawsuit and member of the Leadership Council of the Washington, D.C. Metro Area Taxi Operators Association.
The legislation encompasses only minimal requirements for ride service operators and the safety of those services. Ride service operators are not required to register or get a license from the D.C. Taxicab Commission. Ride service operators are not required to carry commercial insurance and are not constrained by a multitude of other strict regulations set by the Commission for D.C. taxi operators.
"I've lived in D.C. and served the city for my entire adult life, and I could lose my livelihood because of this legislation. I have nothing personal against Uber drivers. They're trying to make a living, but I am too, and a giant corporation headquartered outside of D.C. should not get to play by a different set of rules," said Ziena Abraha, a plaintiff and D.C. taxi driver.
"D.C. taxi drivers spoke up repeatedly in public and before the D.C. Council. They were not respected; their concerns were not acknowledged; and instead, the Council rigged the game in favor or Uber, Lyft and Sidecar," said Royale Simms, a business agent with Local 922. "We will continue to fight and speak up until justice is won."
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