Black Top Cabs hammered by B.C. Human Rights Tribunal for treatment of injured taxi driver

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      A Vancouver taxi company has been ordered to pay nearly $24,000 after discriminating against one of its cabbies.

      Laeke Gebresadik started driving for Black Top Cabs in 2011 while attending UBC, according to a recent B.C. Human Rights Tribunal decision.

      After graduating, he switched to full-time work, signing a one-year lease to drive a taxi van in 2015.

      But four-and-a-half months later, he suffered painful injuries when the van was rear-ended.

      In a stinging ruling, tribunal member Marlene Tyshynski wrote that Gebresadik "promptly provided Black Top with a Medical Certificate that clearly forbade him to push, pull or lift anything heavier than ten pounds".

      "In these circumstances, Black Top not only failed to accommodate Mr. Gebresadik, but insisted that he accept wheelchair passengers contrary to his doctor's orders or be suspended," Tyshynski stated in her decision. "He was yelled at when he tried to explain that he was unable to do so. He was suspended on two occasions for declining to pick up wheelchair passengers."

      Black Top was ordered to pay $15,000 for "injury to dignity, feelings and self-respect and post-judgment interest", $7,781.03 for wage loss with pre-judgment and post-judgment interest, $500 in costs, and $200 for expenses incurred by Gebresadik.

      The ruling pointed out that the taxi dispatcher was "particularly rude" to its injured driver.

      Black Top suspended Gebresadik for the first time from October 2015 to March 8, 2016 after he refused to pick up passengers in wheelchairs.

      When he wasn't allowed to drive the van, he put himself on the list for daily lease drivers, but was provided with little work.

      "Mr. Gebresadik testified that he was put in a position of begging for work and to no avail," Tyshynski stated. "In my view, this was not a minor incident of discrimination."

      Later in the ruling, Tyshynski wrote: "I find that Mr. Gebresadik was very vulnerable. He was recently injured, in pain and receiving ongoing physiotherapy. He testified, and I accept, that he had serious debts upon completing his university degree and a family of three children to support. He testified that he had to work, pain or no pain, event though his doctor recommended against it."

      Gebresadik argued the case himself before the tribunal.

      He claimed that Black Top "engaged in inappropriate behaviour" throughout its duration by failing to disclose records, including assignment logs for 2016 and most trip sheets.

      Tyshynski wrote that she's "satisfied that Black Top has not disclosed to Mr. Gebresadik all evidence in its possession or control that may be relevant to the complaint".

      She ordered the taxi company to institute a human rights policy within three months, "including respecting the duty to reasonably accommodate drivers with disabilities".