A federal jury awarded our client, a black male cab driver for an affiliate of Yellow Cab, $250,000.00 late yesterday, after a jury ruled that the company steered riders away from our client because he is black.
Marie A. Mattox in our firm handled the case and won the trial.
Our client is a cab driver. He is, like most cab drivers, an independent contractor. In other words, he works for himself, but makes himself available to take calls, and transport customers, referred to him by cab companies. In this case, he reached agreement with the local Yellow Cab company to transport their riders. More specifically, he agreed to transport disabled riders, and he bought an expensive customized handicap-accessible minivan for this purpose. But the company then began steering riders away from him, and giving nearly all the opportunities to the white drivers who had handicap-accessible vans. As a result, our client began losing a tremendous amount of money.
We sued on his behalf, alleging that he was denied a fair share of the business because he is black. You can read the actual lawsuit here.
Most of our civil rights lawsuits are filed under workplace laws on behalf of people who meet the definition of a true “employee.” Cab drivers, and other independent contractors, can’t sue under those laws. So we sued under a very old (1866) but still useful civil rights law that extended protection for blacks beyond the workplace. The 1866 Civil Rights Act, passed at the end of the American Civil War, expanded protection against discrimination to all kinds of ordinary activities – borrowing money from banks, buying land, getting insurance, eating at restaurants – nearly everything. The purpose was to ensure discrimination was stamped out wherever it might exist.
Here, the jury agreed with us that the company was illegally discriminating against the cab driver. Of the total $250,000 awarded to him, about $55,000.00 was for lost income, and the balance, about $195,000, was punitive damages. That’s a kind of damage specifically intended to punish a wrongdoer. It can go beyond what a person has actually suffered in financial losses. It sends a societal message to a wrongdoer that the price of their misconduct can be much greater than the harm caused to just the one individual.
The case is Cedric Jones v. Capital Transportation, Inc., d/b/a Capital Yellow Cab, Inc., Case No. 4:14-CV-00015-RH-CAS.