A cab driver was fined for refusing to pick up Al Roker. The cabbie pleaded guilty after snubbing Roker in favor of another fare. However, it seems the cab driver may not have been penalized for racial discrimination
The New York City cab driver who passed up Roker in November in favor of a “white guy a block away” pleaded guilty for his actions that reeked of racial bias. Interestingly, it appears he wasn’t pulled up for refusing to pick-up an African-American man in favor of a white passenger. It seems he was pronounced guilty to a service refusal violation and fined accordingly.
The Taxi and Limousine Commission confirmed that the cab driver, who has been identified as Mahabur Rahman, admitted to a service refusal violation. After he made his plea last month, he has been let off with a warning and $500 fine. Incidentally, the commission added that it was Rahman’s second such violation. It isn’t immediately clear if the commission has a three strikes policy against complaints for alleged racial discrimination or service refusal.
Al Roker, a famous NBC Today show weatherman, had filed an official complaint in November alleging that he and his son were specifically ignored for another fare over racial reasons. Roker had rallied on social media, confirming he would fight such discrimination on the streets of New York. Confirming the incident on Twitter, he had written,
Filed a complaint today after getting passed up again by a NYC Yellow cab. Cabbie picked up a white guy a block away. Wonder why Uber wins?— Al Roker (@alroker) November 22, 2015
Roker even narrated the incident to another Twitter user who was curious as to what exactly happened:
@mariamadelyn_ he pulled up, I reached for the door, took off and went for the guy a block away. He saw me and took off for another fare— Al Roker (@alroker) November 22, 2015
He swiftly followed up with another tweet that reiterated the claims that such bias is commonly observable, but admitted that majority of the cab drivers do their job as expected.
This happens to folks of color every day. And while most cabbies do their job, there are those ignorant, racist ones who hurt the others— Al Roker (@alroker) November 22, 2015
He even added that the insult was doubly amplified because he was with his teenage son, Nicholas, who asked why the cab driver passed them in favor of a “white guy” about a block away.
What really hurts, my 13 yr. old boy was with me and asked why the cabbie passed us. I said, "Nick, ignorant people make dumb choices"— Al Roker (@alroker) November 22, 2015
Acting on his promise to appeal to the relevant authority, Roker went on to the website and lodged a formal complaint. He later added that the process was fairly simple.
Ensuring the complaint reached the right authorities; Roker even added the New York Taxi association’s official Twitter handle in his tweet.
Hopefully @nyctaxi weeds out the bad apples. Looking forward to a hearing and dealing with this. I will keep you posted— Al Roker (@alroker) November 22, 2015
Taxi and Limousine Commission chair Meera Joshi sent a statement acknowledging Roker’s complaint and said that they would be looking into the incident, New York Daily News had reported.
“Service refusal goes to the core of the taxi industry’s social contract with the riding public and it will not be tolerated. We’re grateful that Mr. Roker took the time to file a complaint, and I can assure him that we will investigate this thoroughly and take every appropriate action.”
The commission confirmed that Al Roker was made aware of the outcome. It is not known how Roker has received the news or how he feels about the cab driver being fined for “refusal of service.”
Needless to say, it is illegal for cab drivers to refuse to pick up a passenger because of their race, disability, or chosen destination within the five boroughs of New York City, reports the Daily Mail. Apparently, Huffington Post did try to reach the cab driver, but he chose to hang up the phone.
When asked where he was heading with his son, Al Roker shared he was headed to a doctor’s appointment in New York. Roker, 61, had successfully hosted Weather Channel show Wake Up With Al for six years, before it was cancelled last month.
It is interesting to note that the cab driver who snubbed Al Roker was let off with a very petty fine, as compared to another cab driver Baqir Raza. Raza was slapped with a hefty fine of $25,000 for refusing to pick up black woman Cynthia Jordan, 57, and her daughters outside Macy’s in Herald Square, reported the Daily Mail.
[Photo by Josiah Kamau / Getty Images.]