A gay man who claimed a Chicago taxi driver threw him and a male companion out of the cab, leaving them on Lake Shore Drive, has sued Uber and the Chicago taxi association with which the driver was affiliated, saying the companies should be held liable under state human rights laws for the drivers’ actions.
On June 6, Shadi Ramini, of Chicago, filed his complaint in Cook County Circuit Court against Uber Technologies and the Blue Ribbon Taxi Association, saying they should be held to account for the alleged violations of their rights under the Illinois Human Rights Act.
The action, introduced by their attorneys, Jacob Meister and Ed Mullen, of Jacob Meister & Associates, of Chicago, comes about 14 months after Ramini and his companion, identified as Seth Day in other published reports about the incident, first alleged they were kicked out of the cab as it pulled onto Lake Shore Drive after the pair exchanged what they described as a brief kiss.
According to the complaint, the incident occurred on April 1, 2015, when Ramini hired the taxi through the Uber smartphone app to pick him and Day up at the corner of Lawrence Avenue and Sheridan Avenue in Chicago for a trip “to a destination further north.”
Upon entering the back seat of the cab, Ramini’s complaint said he and his companion “kissed briefly” in a manner that “was by no means inappropriate.”
According to the complaint, the driver, who is not identified in the complaint, allegedly became “aggressive and belligerent” and told the men “they could not do that in his cab and that they needed to get out.”
However, when Ramini and his companion attempted to get out, the complaint alleged the driver “sped up while the door was open and got onto Lake Shore Drive in the opposite direction of their destination.”
Ramini said he was able to get out of the cab onto Lake Shore Drive median, but “his companion was not able to get out of the cab until further south, and he suffered cuts, bruises and injuries.”
They alleged the cab driver’s purported actions were directed at them because they are gay.
The lawsuit said Ramini had attempted to filed a case with the Illinois Department of Human Rights over the incident, but the state agency dismissed his complaint there “on the grounds of lack of jurisdiction.” That decision “exhausted his administrative remedies,” prompting Ramini to litigate the matter in the county’s civil courts.
Ramini said the companies should be held vicariously liable for the cab driver’s alleged discriminatory actions “because of their role in the management and operation of the taxi cab” and the driver’s alleged “wrongful denial of access to public accommodations based on … sexual orientation.”
Ramini has requested unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, plus attorney fees.