After Cabbie Refuses Customer With Guide Dog, Taxi-hailing App Faces Suit

Gett says it is only an intermediary and is not responsible for offenses caused by drivers.

FILE PHOTO: A Gett cab, formerly known as GetTaxi, in Jerusalem
Emil Salman

The Israeli Justice Ministry filed a 125,000 shekel lawsuit Tuesday against the taxi company Gett (previously GetTaxi) after its drivers refused to transport customers with limited eyesight who are assisted by guide eye dogs.

Attorney Inas Hagai Yehia, representing The Equal Opportunities Commission, filed the suit at the Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court.

According to the lawsuit, Herzl Cohen, who suffers from limited sight, ordered a taxi with the help of his daughter using the Gett application, but the driver, who arrived after a few minutes, refused to let Cohen in the car after realizing that he relies on the aid of a guide dog.

Cohen told the driver that he's required by law to do so, but the driver continued to refuse and left. Cohen's daughter ordered another taxi using the application but the second driver also refused to let the dog in his car.

A law that assures equal rights for people with disabilities states that they are entitled to full equal treatment in all aspects of life while providing suitable solutions to their special needs.

The law forbids those in the service sector from discriminating against an individual because of his disabilities, and specifically states that the rights of someone with a guide dog to use public services must not be limited.

Gett responded to the filing of the lawsuit, claiming that the company "serves only as an intermediary between the drivers and the passengers."

Representatives of the company added that "GetTaxi is not responsible for any damages or discomfort, directly or indirectly, as a result of the drivers' behavior."

The suit claims negligence against the company for not instructing its employees in behavior toward those with disabilities and specifically toward those who are blind or rely on guide dogs. Therefore, the plaintiffs claim that the conduct of the drivers and the company constitutes clear discrimination against those with disabilities. 

"The defendants grossly violated the provisions of the equality law and severely infringed upon the rights of persons with disabilities," the lawsuit states.

Avrami Toram, head of the Equal Rights for People with Disabilities Commission, said that "blind people assisted by guide dogs frequently use taxes to get from one place to another. One of the unpleasant experiences, which unfortunately repeats itself, is that even after legislating the equality law, taxi drivers refuse to let them in their taxis or drive by them without stopping. We will continue to act with determination in order to eradicate these unacceptable acts."