Graeme McCreath has filed a complaint with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal, alleging he was discriminated against by Bluebird Cabs Ltd. (Black Press Media file photo)

Graeme McCreath has filed a complaint with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal, alleging he was discriminated against by Bluebird Cabs Ltd. (Black Press Media file photo)

B.C. man accuses taxi driver of leaving because he had guide dog

Bluebird Cabs Ltd. application to dismiss complaint denied

A Victoria man who is blind has filed a complaint with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal, alleging he was discriminated against by a Victoria taxi company.

Graeme McCreath said he was at his doctor’s office in July 2018 with his guide dog when office staff called Bluebird Cabs Ltd. for a cab to take him home.

The B.C. Human Rights Tribunal ruled against Bluebird’s attempt to have the case dismissed and said it would go to a hearing.

According to the decision from the tribunal, the first cab to arrive did not pick up McCreath.

McCreath alleges the driver left after seeing his guide dog. His doctor’s office then called the same company for another cab and McCreath says, in an amendment to his complaint, that the second cab driver “immediately proceeded to scold [him] for not letting them know [he] needed the ‘pet friendly’ cab.” McCreath says the driver chastised him the whole way home and explained the driver of the first cab had an allergy and could not take McCreath.

McCreath alleges Bluebird discriminated against him because services to people with guide dogs are customarily available to the public on the basis of physical disability.

The B.C. Human Rights Tribunal decision says Bluebird denies discriminating against McCreath and applied to have his complaint dismissed, stating McCreath’s complaint has no reasonable prospect of success and is not an arguable contravention of the B.C. Human Rights Code.

Human Rights Tribunal member Pamela Murray, however, denied Bluebird’s application to have the complaint dismissed. In the decision, Murray says McCreath’s amended complaint “meets the standard to allege an arguable contravention of the code.”

READ ALSO: Blind runner wins discrimination case against TC10k

In the decision, Murray says there are also issues about whether the first cab driver saw McCreath and where he was standing when the cab arrived.

In addition, Bluebird did not amend its response to deny what McCreath alleges the second cab driver said to him.

“I cannot find in these circumstances – even after reviewing all the documents the parties provided on the application – that Mr. McCreath’s complaint has no reasonable prospect of success,” Murray says in the decision.

According to the decision, Bluebird’s dispatch and GPS records show the first cab accepted the call to pick up McCreath at 1:06 p.m., arrived at 1:10 p.m., marked the call as a no-show at 1:13 p.m. and left the building two minutes later. Whether or not the first cab driver even saw McCreath is under dispute.

McCreath alleges the driver left after seeing he was travelling with a guide dog. The driver says he did not see anyone who looked like they were waiting for a cab and did not see a guide dog. The driver also says he does not have an allergy and can transport dogs, providing evidence that he has done so before and after the incident, according to the decision.

The decision says Bluebird itself has a policy stating that drivers cannot decline to transport guide dogs unless they have a documented allergy.

READ ALSO: Victoria man challenging human rights tribunal ruling over guide dog discrimination

A second cab was dispatched to the doctor’s office at 1:16 p.m. and picked up McCreath seven minutes later. Bluebird says no calls were made between the first and second cab driver between 1 and 1:30 p.m. that day, the decision says.

Bluebird argues McCreath’s complaint about the first cab driver is “based on conjecture and speculation.”

“In my view, a hearing is necessary to decide what happened and to make credibility findings, in particular about whether the first cab’s driver saw Mr. McCreath,” Murray says in the decision.

In a hearing, the onus will be on McCreath to prove his disability was a factor in alleged adverse impact, like the first cab not picking him up. Only then would the onus shift to Bluebird to prove a defence, the decision says.

READ ALSO: Court rejects discrimination suit from Victoria guide dog owner

Previously, McCreath has filed discrimination cases against Victoria Taxi and the TC10K. His case against the TC10k – a complaint against the race director for not letting him start five minutes early in the race – won and the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal ordered the organization to pay damages and accommodate him.

He lost his case against Victoria Taxi, where McCreath said he and his guide dog were refused transport by a cab driver due to allergies. At the time, another cab was called for McCreath and it arrived within minutes.

shalu.mehta@blackpress.ca


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

disabilities

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A 2002 F350 was stolen from a Whitevale home sometime overnight Jan. 14. (Contributed)
Truck stolen near Lumby overnight

Lifted Ford stolen from Whitevale Road

Nate Brown photo
Okanagan-Shuswap says goodbye sunshine, hello winter

Temperatures are forecasted to drop by mid-next week

The Lavington Community Association shared this image of the final support beam installed at Jeffers Park in 2020. (Lavington Community Association - Instagram)
COVID-19 halts plans to open Lavington ice rink

Skaters won’t be able to enjoy the newly erected roof at Jeffers Park this season

Deb White, carnival chairwoman, rode in on style Saturday during the parade. (Caitlin Clow - Vernon Morning Star)
Pandemic postpones parade, heart of Vernon Winter Carnival

Interior Health says no to one of B.C.’s only winter parades

An elementary school student misplaced their glucose monitoring device for diabetes and his family and teachers are hoping someone maybe picked it up. (Dexcom)
UPDATE: Vernon student’s missing medical device found

Receiver used to monitor diabetes believed left in snowbank at school

Brett Forsythe battles it out in a game of singles pickleball on ice at Okanagan Training Rink Thursday, Jan. 7 in support of the Vernon Food Bank. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Pickleball play hits the ice in Okanagan

Rivals battle it out in support of the food bank

RCMP on scene at a home on Sylvania Cres. (Phil McLachlan /Capital News/FILE)
Two Kelowna men arrested after Rutland home invasion

Two Kelowna men, including a prolific offender, facing slew of potential charges

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Real estate sales in the South Okanagan grew by more than any other part of the province in 2020. (Marissa Tiel - Black Press)
South Okanagan fastest growing real estate market in B.C.

There was over $1 billion in residential sales in 2020

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The facility in Summerland has 112 long-term care beds. Interior Health funds 75 of the beds. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
Six more months for temporary South Okanagan long-term care facility administrator

The temporary administrator was appointed following site visits and concerns from Interior Health

RCMP pictured at a motor vehicle incident during snowy conditions. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press Media/FILE)
Vehicle found abandoned after fleeing Kelowna RCMP, avoiding spike belt

Police believed at the time vehicle was tied to alleged shooting in West Kelowna

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

West Kelowna RCMP are investigating reports of gunfire in the 1700-block of Ross Road. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
West Kelowna RCMP investigating reports of gunfire

West Kelowna RCMP said the incident occurred on Jan. 14

Most Read