A Portland cabbie was found to have violated the rights of a lesbian couple when he ditched them on a highway last summer. Yesterday, state labor regulators ruled that the taxi driver, Ahmed Egal, violated the civil rights of Kate Neal and Shanako DeVoll when he left them on the side of Interstate 84.
The passengers’ complaint states that Egal openly objected to their show of affection. Then, he voiced disapproval of their sexual orientation before stopping the cab on the shoulder of the busy highway. Neal had tried unsuccessfully to persuade him to stop in a safer place to let them out.
Investigators found considerable evidence, including video footage, supporting the womens’ claim. Allegedly, Egal shouted hateful, anti-gay slurs before forcing them out of the cab. Before doing so, however, he created a cover story by calling 911, reporting that the two were intoxicated and didn’t want to pay.
Neal and DeVoll filed their complaint under the Oregon Equality Act, a 2007 law that protects the rights of LGBT Oregonians in employment, housing and public places.
There has yet to be a settlement reached in the case, but the city of Portland permanently revoked Egal’s taxi driving permit because he failed to take the couple safely to their destination.
Oregon’s Bureau of Labor and Industries will now decide whether to bring formal civil rights charges against Egal before an administrative law judge.