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D.C. cabs have long been accused of racial discrimination, with drivers said to frequently pass by black customers who are trying to hail a vehicle.

Today, the D.C. Taxicab Commission announced the launch of a new discrimination complaint process with the D.C. Office of Human Rights that would make it easier to report the discrimination and file the complaint with both agencies. The new complaint form also simplifies the information required to file a complaint.

This collaboration started when the OHR discovered that only a small number of complaints lodged with the cab commission included allegations of discrimination, despite anecdotal evidence showing that cab drivers often ignore minorities and people with disabilities trying to hail a cab. OHR also found that few complaints in general are filed with DCTC.

“Hailing a taxicab is often a challenge for people of color and people with disabilities,” said OHR Director Mónica Palacio in a press release. “We have many excellent taxicab drivers in the District, however those who discriminate against passengers because of their race or disability must know we will not tolerate it.”

This new streamlined process means that drivers facing allegations of discrimination could face penalties from both agencies, which would hopefully serve as a deterrent from this sort of discrimination. A failure to haul complaint filed with DCTC  previously carried the same fine as a violation of any other D.C. cab regulation.

“While the Taxicab Commission has vigorously enforced failure to haul regulations requiring taxicabs pick-up passengers with only two legal exceptions, we believe extra attention should be given to those incidents where discrimination may have occurred,” said DCTC Chairman Ron Linton in a release. “Our hope is the increased threat of penalties for discriminatory failure to haul incidents will encourage drivers to treat all potential passengers equally.”

The new form can be found on the OHR website here or on the DCTC website here.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery