Muslim cabbie claims Surrey employer told him he can’t drive because ‘his community can’t be trusted’

Published: December 24, 2013
Surrey

A human rights tribunal will hear a Surrey cab driver’s claims that he was denied a vehicle to drive based on his religion. Ward Perrin/PNG

CHERYL CHAN
VANCOUVER DESI

A human rights complaint filed by a Muslim cabbie alleging discrimination by his Surrey employer on the basis of his religion will go ahead.

Irfan Aziz was an on-call driver for White Rock South Surrey Taxi but has not driven for the company since May 28, 2013 because, according to a manager, there were no available cars. Aziz claimed he was denied access to vehicles because of his religion.

According to the reasons for decisions filed by the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal this December, Aziz alleged one of his bosses, Surinder Singh Mann, refused to let him drive a vehicle in several instances in 2012 because he is “a Muslim and [his] community can’t be trusted.”

He alleged Mann pressured taxi owners not to let him drive their cars, and called him derogatory names including “musla slave” and “Paki.”

He also alleged Mann and the company, also known as Pacific Cabs Limited, threatened him to drop his complaint, which he filed in June 2013.

Pacific Cabs has issued a blanket denial, calling the allegations fabricated and filed an application to dismiss. It said it has a number of employees who are Muslim.

It alleged Aziz was a disgruntled employee who wanted to shut the business down and filed the complaint as retaliation, and provided eight affidavits from other employees, including taxi owners, drivers, and the general manager, who said they had witnessed no discrimination against the cabbie.

In the decision, tribunal chair Bernd Walter noted Aziz’s allegations were “detailed and to some extent dated.” He said Pacific Cabs were not able to provide evidence to prove his complaint was filed in bad faith or with an improper motive.

Walter said both sides’ conflicting version of events would be best resolved in a hearing where witnesses can be cross-examined under oath, and denied Pacific Cabs’ application to dismiss.

Pacific Cabs has about 63 cabs and serves Surrey, Langley, Fort Langley and the Vancouver International Airport.

chchan@theprovince.com

twitter.com/cherylchan

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