CHELSEA — A taxi driver must pay a lesbian couple $10,000 for telling them to either stop smooching in the backseat of his cab or kiss their ride goodbye, a city administrative judge ruled last month.
Yellow cab hack Mohammed Dahbi was accused of discriminating against the couple over their sexual orientation by ordering them to "keep that [behavior] for the bedroom or get out of the cab." Dahbi also gave the passengers, Christy Spitzer and Kassie Thornton, some lip, calling them "b-----s," "c---s" and "whores" when they got out of the cab without paying, according to Judge John Spooner's decision.
Kassie Thornton and Christy Spitzer
Spooner, who oversaw Dahbi's trial at the city's Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings, also ordered him to attend anti-discrimination training and to pay a $5,000 civil penalty to the city. The city's Commission on Human Rights, which brought the complaint against Dahbi on behalf of Spitzer and Thornton, still must approve Spooner's decision.
Dahbi claimed during the hearing that he couldn't keep his eyes on the road because Spitzer and Thornton were kissing "heavily" and "touching all over each other." Dahbi told the judge that he found their behavior "distracting" and feared it would make him have an accident.
Spitzer and Thornton both testified at the trial that they had just kissed each other with a "peck on the lips."
Thornton told the judge that after that comment she didn't feel comfortable, so she got out of the cab, grabbed her luggage and left. Spitzer followed shortly after with her dog, according to the decision.
When the women refused to pay him the fare to that point, he hurled expletives at them and sped away.
Dahbi's lawyer, Ali Najmi, told DNAinfo New York his client never once said anything about Spitzer and Thornton's sexuality.
"Mr. Dahbi has a standard of decency that he asks all riders in his cab to follow," Najmi said. "He has asked straight couples to stop engaging in similar behavior. It can be very distracting for a driver if people are getting hot and heavy in the taxi."
However, the judge disagreed.
"The more likely reason for [Dahbi] stopping the taxicab and directing Ms. Spitzer and Ms. Thornton to stop kissing was, not that he objected to all kissing, but that he was uncomfortable with two women sharing a romantic kiss," Spooner said his decision.
Najmi, Dhabi's lawyer, said they plan to appeal the decision.
"My client never once mentioned anything about their sexuality and never threw them out of the taxi," he said. "In fact, the complaint doesn't even allege that he used any derogatory language about their sexuality and the two women testified that they are the ones who decided to exit the taxi. He wanted to take them to their final destination."Assuming the story is accurate, and this is by far the most detailed account I could find, the judge simply assumed, without any evidence, that the cabbie had made his demand that they cut out the PDA because the couple are lesbians. So we're simply assuming discriminatory motives now?