A couple is suing New York City’s Taxi & Limousine Commission for a hefty $3 million for racially profiling the husband as he dropped his wife off at work, DNA.info reports, and accusing him of being an illegal taxi driver with an unsuspecting white passenger—his wife.
The TLC confiscated the couple’s Lincoln Town Car for more than a week and gave each of them a summons, even as the couple attempted to explain the situation to the agents.
According to the report, back in May 2013, Dan Keys Jr., 66, who is black, was dropping off his biracial wife, 53-year-old Symone Palermo, at her job in the New York City borough of Queens. Palermo was sitting in the backseat because rain had gotten in on the front passenger seat the evening before.
After Palermo got out of the car and Keys drove off, Keys was pulled over by TLC agents, who accused him of using the car as an illegal taxicab, tossing in the line that a “white female” passenger had confirmed that he was unlicensed, DNA.info notes. Palermo did return to the scene to try and get everything cleared up, but instead each of them got a summons and their car was taken away. In addition, Palermo was given a ticket because the car is in her name.
“Upon information and belief, when attempting to identify illegally operated taxis, it is the official policy or custom of [the city and the TLC] to instruct its employees to target and single out vehicles operated by minorities with white passengers,” the lawsuit, which was filed last week in the Queens Supreme Court, claims.
“We think there was no basis for the TLC to have pulled over my clients in the first instance,” their lawyer, David Haber, told the news site. “Once they pulled over my clients, [the investigators] had many opportunities to let them go—to realize they pulled over the wrong people. Instead they doubled down on their mistake. I believe that they flat-out lied in their summonses.”
The couple did get some closure last year, when a city administrative judge dismissed the summonses, but the TLC still kept the couple’s car until Palermo won her case days later.
Read more at DNAinfo.