A Muslim New York City tax driver claimed his religion prevented him from letting a female passenger ride in the front seat alongside him. Unfortunately for him, a city judge didn’t agree with his justification and ordered that Tamsir Drammeh pay the city a $350 fine.
When a family of four walked up to Drammeh’s Eighth Avenue taxi stand, he opened the trunk for them to place their luggage in. The husband and children, ages 6 and 11, got in the back of the cab. When the wife moved to get in the passenger door, Drammeh refused to unlock it. Drammeh, according to the woman, claimed that her husband could sit up front if he chose, but that she was not allowed.
The family decided that they would rather hail another cab than be discriminated against, so they recorded the number of Drammeh’s taxi medallion, and promptly looked for another taxi to flag down.
After the wife filed a discrimination suit, the court ruled in her favor twice–once in a city hearing, and once again on appeal. Drammeh claimed the woman was combative and had been cursing at him, but even in that case, the judge didn’t agree with him. Besides the fine, he was suspended for one day, though he still has his taxi license and is allowed to drive around NYC picking up fares.
Drammeh defended himself by telling the court he eventually invited her to sit up front–grudgingly–but Judge Laura Fieber told Drammeh that religion should be kept to himself when he’s serving the public.
And despite what Drammeh, 64, claimed about his religion forbidding a female passenger in the front seat, fellow Muslims told the New York Post that they didn’t agree with him.
“There’s no such rule in Islam,” said the manager of J and I Maintenance Corp. in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, the garage for whom Drammeh drove. “There’s no such thing.”
“Maybe if she was drunk and wearing a skirt hiked up to here, he wouldn’t have her in the front, but only if she is alone,” said a driver at the same garage.
Fieber said, ‘That his religion did not allow him to sit next to a woman is not an acceptable defense…’
“That his religion did not allow him to sit next to a woman is not an acceptable defense in an occupation that is operated to serve the public,” she wrote in her ruling. “Of significance, respondent made it clear that the husband would be welcome in the front seat, while the wife/complainant would not be.”