Kicked out of a cab: Driver discriminated against gay couple, investigation finds

Kicked out of a cab: Driver discriminated against gay couple, investigation finds »Play Video
Shanko Devoll (left) and Kate Neal.

PORTLAND, Ore. – A Portland taxi driver violated a gay couple's civil rights when he kicked two women out of his cab along Interstate 84 last summer, according to an investigation by the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries.

BOLI said its investigators found “substantial evidence of discrimination” against the couple. The driver, Ahmed Egal, kicked the women out of the car based on their sexual orientation, investigators concluded.

The incident happened in July of 2013. Kate Neal and Shanko Devoll told KATU they took a cab home after a night out with friends. They said they were being affectionate during the ride home when the taxi driver started yelling and stopped his car along I-84, where he kicked them out.

The driver, Ahmed Egal, told a 911 dispatcher that the women were drunk and didn’t want to pay for their cab ride.

The city suspended Egal's license last summer and Broadway Cab suspended him from work.

The couple filed a complaint under the Oregon Equality Act of 2007, which protects the rights of gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgender Oregonians in employment, housing and public places. Oregonians cannot be denied service at private businesses based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, according to Oregon law.

According to BOLI investigators, Egal acted on his own when he stopped service to the couple based on their sexual orientation, meaning Broadway Cab was not responsible.

BOLI says the bureau will decide whether to bring formal charges. The two sides have been unable to reach a settlement, BOLI said.

Egal told KATU's Kerry Tomlinson he will fight any charges against him. He said he's disappointed in the city where he has lived for 15 years, and where his six children were born.

"I love this city. I think it was the best," Egal said. "Portland is real different. I regret that the city that I loved became this way."

BOLI says "Public accommodation complaints," these type of cases, are rare in Oregon. Public accommodation complaints relating to sexual orientation and gender identity are even more obscure: They represent less than 1 percent of all discrimination complaints.