State: Cabbie discriminated against same-sex couple

7-28-13-cab couple-neal
Kate Neal and her partner say they were thrown out of a cab along I-84 because they are gay. (July 25, 2013, KOIN 6 News)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – The state found the claims of a same-sex couple who said a Portland cab driver kicked them out of his taxi on the side of a freeway last summer because they were gay were valid.

The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) said in a news release that its investigation found that Ahmed Egal violated the civil rights of the couple when he dropped them off on the shoulder on Interstate-84 in the early morning hours of July 26, 2013, prompting the couple to later file a complaint with BOLI claiming that he had violated the Oregon Equality Act.

The agency determined that there was “substantial evidence” that Egal operated as an “unincorporated sole proprietorship when he stopped service based on the couple’s sexual orientation.”

The BOLI Administrative Prosecution Unit will now decide whether to bring formal charges against Egal. The two sides have been unable to reach a settlement.

In July, Kate Neal and Shankako Devoll told KOIN that Egal noticed they were being affectionate with each other, and he started yelling homophobic comments before kicking them and a friend out of the Broadway cab.

Egal’s permit was suspended a few days later.

However, a 911 call placed by Egal during the incident seemed to tell a different story. In the call, Egal tells dispatchers that his passengers are acting drunk and attempting to open the door as he was driving, which forced him to pull over.

The Oregon Equality Act was passed in 2007. It is designed to protect the rights of gays, lesbians and bisexuals in issues of employment, housing and public places.

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