Nearly 300 taxicab drivers have filed discrimination complaints against Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport with the federal government.
Drivers represented by the Association of Taxi Operators say working conditions at the airport are unacceptable because of new ground transportation management. The NAACP filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on their behalf.
The drivers say they are subjected to discrimination, harassment and intimidation. Drivers say they are verbally ridiculed and referred to as animals in a zoo.
"We're not animals," driver Harbi Hassan said. "We're human beings. For me, I've been a U.S. citizen for 15 years. I might have (an) accent, but I'm a U.S. citizen."
Drivers also say feces were found in an area designated for prayer.
"They render top-notch service for the community, and we want the community to be aware that they're working under these types of conditions," said Juanita Wallace, president of the Dallas NAACP.
Muneeb Awan, of the Association of Taxi Operators, said 90 percent of drivers' business relies on the airport.
"When people say, 'Why can't I drive outside [the airport]?' -- there's not enough business for me to go outside and do my business," he said.
DFW Airport spokesman David Magana said they are investigating the allegations.
"DFW maintains an ongoing dialogue with all transportation providers in order to jointly ensure top-quality service for customers," he said in a statement. "Occasionally, the airport may have a different perspective than operators regarding policies that advance goals such as customer service or environmental quality. DFW regards allegations of employee misconduct as serious matters, and investigates each one fully. Beyond that, the airport does not comment on personnel issues."
The NAACP said it hopes the complaint will be enough to improve conditions for the drivers. If not, Wallace said she expects the EEOC to take action.
"They can give you a letter called 'right to sue,'" she said. "Once you get that letter, 'right to sue,' you take it to an attorney, and you sue the heck out of the persons that's been discriminating against you."
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