Lawsuit alleges that four D.C. cab companies ignored blind passengers

by Sean Riley

A civil rights group has filed a lawsuit accusing four D.C. cab companies of discriminating against blind passengers with service dogs.

The Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs announced the lawsuit Monday on behalf of the American Council of the Blind and one of the group’s employees, Eric Bridges.

The suit was filed against Yellow Cab Company of DC, Grand Cab, Elite Cab and Pleasant Taxi. It stems from an investigation conducted in 2013 by WUSA-9 with help from the American Council of the Blind. The station reported that the cabs they observed repeatedly discriminated against blind passengers as they tried to hail a ride. 

The report featured four cab companies caught on video at various D.C. locations failing to stop for Bridges and his guide dog, a black labrador named General. Some of the cabs, after ignoring Bridges, stopped to pick up Russ Ptacek, a sighted WUSA reporter who was standing down the street.

When Ptacek asked the drivers why they hadn’t stopped for the individual with the dog, some said they hadn’t seen him or thought he was waiting for someone else.

WUSA also examined whether cabs stopped for people in wheelchairs. The station reported that of 42 cabs observed in a single day, 20 of them “either drove right past the passenger with a disability in favor of another fare, took them to the wrong location without warning, or charged an illegal extra fee.”

The lawsuit accused the cab companies of violating the District’s Human Rights Act as well as the federal Americans with Disabilities Act. [MORE]