It’s a costly lesson in “live and let live” for a New York City taxi driver, reports the New York Post. The NYC Human Rights Commission has ordered Mohammad Dahbi to pay $7,000 each to former MTV producer Christy Spitzer Thornton and her partner, actress Kassie Thornton, as restitution for emotional damages stemming a homophobic incident in October 2011.
“It’s worth 5 years of our life change is happening,” Kassie Thornton told LGBTQ Nation. “And it is!”
Thornton pointed to a report two weeks ago that the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission is soon going to require anti-discrimination training for all cab drivers all “for-hire” drivers in the city. No date is set for the program’s launch.
The Thorntons said the driver yelled at the lesbians and told them to stop kissing while they were in the back seat of his cab, and that they should “keep that for the bedroom or get out of the cab.” They claimed it was a peck; he said they were going at it so enthusiastically they blocked his view out the rear window.
The women said he then pulled over and ordered them out, reported PinkNews, and when they refused to pay, he called them “cunts,” “whores” and “bitches.” Dahbi claimed to also be a victim of verbal abuse, saying the women called him a “fucking Arab terrorist”, and a “radical Muslim asshole.” However, the commission said it focused on what he said to them, to “stop that behaviour”.
“That statement constitutes a ‘declaration…that the patronage of Complainants is ‘unwelcome, objectionable or not acceptable, desired or solicited,” the commission said. Dahbi claimed during testimony that he had asked straight couples to stop kissing too, but that defense was described as “both implausible and not credible,” by the commission.
This $14,000 fine is on top of another $10,000 punishment. The Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings previously ruled Dahbi must pay $10,000 to the couple for his behavior, which he said in April he would appeal. He was also ordered to undergo anti-discrimination training by the judge.
The couple, however, told the New York Post they are willing to forgive the fines.
“We never wanted to financially ruin him,” said Thornton to newspaper. “We want him to acknowledge what he did, say he’s wrong, do the training, and be a better human.’’
Dahbi has also been ordered to work with the Commission’s Community Relations Bureau for 164 hours.