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Yellow Cab takes a hit in arbitrator's decision on racism case

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In the summer of 2010, 21 past and present Yellow Cab drivers -- all African immigrants -- filed a lawsuit in federal court, charging that the taxi company had favored American drivers and billed plaintiffs for questionable fees. The lawsuit was dismissed at the request of the filers after Yellow Cab agreed to shoulder most of the costs of legally arbitrating the drivers' concerns. But given the results of that arbitration, Yellow Cab might be thinking twice about that move.

In "Mean Streets," his December 2010 Westword cover story, Joel Warner detailed the abuse the drivers had been subjected to. According to the initial suit, three supervisors repeatedly subjected the drivers to verbal attacks, calling them "nigger," "African monkey," "dumb African," "crazy Somali" and "animal."

In his final decision on the case issued February 21, arbitrator Frederick Alvarez, a former Denver District Court judge, said that Yellow Cab's managers intended to identify the drivers "as inferior...from an inferior country located in an inferior continent," the Denver Post reported yesterday. "They used these comments to stifle [the drivers'] demands for concessions and allegations of discrimination."

According to the Post, Diane King, the attorney who pursued the case, was awarded $1.1 million; each driver was awarded $12,000 -- and Ahmed Odawaay got $15,000.

Odawaay, who moved here from Mogadishu in 1997, drove a cab from 2002 until 2009, and then started helping other immigrants adjust to life in this country. Of all the abuse he experienced at Yellow Cab, one incident in particular stood out, he told Warner:

It was September 2007, and he'd promised his five-year-old son that, at the end of the week, he'd take him to a Nuggets game and buy him a pair of $90 Air Jordans. Odawaay worked extra hours that week, and by Friday, he'd made $964, according to his receipts. But when he went to Yellow Cab's office, he was presented with a bill for $887.62 that included such charges as a $486 "accelerated recurring note." When he asked for an explanation, he was told to leave or he'd be fired. So he drove home with just $76 for the week and then sat in his cab outside his home, waiting for his son to go to bed because he couldn't bear to face him.

"It was my worst moment," says Odawaay.

Read the original lawsuit here.

More from our Calhoun: Wake-Up Call archive: "Sugar House is shut, and so is another chapter in sordid Denver history."


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5 comments
mike lowry
mike lowry

that was very bad the drivers who own the case recieving only less than ten grant that was unfair and can we said the lowyer took all the money

Sweathome
Sweathome

Let me put this people who trying to support yelling cab brother and sister we all know why supplying yellow because yellow cab always paly game call divide and rule they divide us by tow group by useing money or lease for 0or 200dol.wene they charging other driver's 500dol.and more

Sweathome
Sweathome

Who ever thing yellow cab didn't do anything wrong its either a buyes or dogwatch for yellow cab I work for yellow and I know how much pain I feel inside there I always ask my self why u.s.govermant want from overseas or why they talking about human rights violation wene they blinding or deafin them self wene same companys are making human abuse inside America and like yellow w and metro taxi are trying to make people to misunderstood Wat this great counter stand for but my last word will be to state govermant please pay attiantion to yellow and metro taxi don't look overseas look down insiad your state Colorado

Light Rail Tattler
Light Rail Tattler

Apparently the Judge has never tried to take a Taxi from  the Westin Hotel or other hotels downtown.Those taxi stands are dominated by immigrants that refuse any walk-up customer that is not going to the airport. The drivers don't want to work or learn the city. Many of those drivers despise Americans and the United States.I have worked off and on for Yellow Cab part time. The managers at Yellow Cab are the ones taking abuse from the immigrants and the managers take it in grace.I have known Wayne Roberson for 20 years. Wayne is always polite to everyone and he is black.Another black driver I have known 20 years, Lee Williams will tell you "there is too much Race card being played"The owners of Yellow Cab are running a first class taxi company; modern equipment and nice people.There is no discrimination. You have to work hard to make it and be willing to make hospital runs and grocery stores. There are long dry spells where the hotels are not moving and few trips to the airport. In America you have to work hard even if it makes you sweat.Just because there is corruption and there is corruptin in all countries; there is no Utopia is no excuse for laziness.

Please Google: RTD Light Rail Train Crash

Mike Russell
Mike Russell

It is easy to say that there is no discrimination.  The court found otherwise, based on evidence and due procedure, and awarded accordingly.

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