New Penalties For Cab Drivers Who Refuse Fares On Religious Grounds

The Muslim cab drivers at Minnesota’s biggest airport who have been refusing to transport passengers who are carrying alcohol or are accompanied by dogs will face stiff new penalties according to Reuters:

A large number of taxi drivers in the area of the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport are Muslim Somali immigrants. Many say they feel the faith’s ban on alcohol consumption includes transporting anyone carrying it.

Some also have refused to transport dogs, both pets and guide dogs, saying they are unclean.

The new rules cover any driver who refuses a ride for unwarranted reasons, including those who refuse to take short-haul passengers in favor of more lucrative longer trips. They can still refuse fares for certain reasons, including threats to their safety.

Under the new regulations a first offense would result in a 30-day cab license suspension and a second in a two-year taxi license revocation.

The current penalty only requires that cab drivers who refuse a fare to go back to the end of the taxi queue, costing them time and money.

Since January 2002, the commission said in announcing the new rules, there have been about 4,800 instances where cab drivers refused to pick up people with alcohol in their possession. Travelers arriving from international destinations often bring back duty-free alcoholic beverages many in easily identifiable packages.

Good news for blind people, now they don’t have to switch to ponies. —MEGHANN MARCO

Minnesota’s Muslim cab drivers face crackdown [Reuters] (Thanks Acambras!)
(Photo: bluhousworker)


Edit Your Comment

  1. kimsama says:

    Darn! And I just got out a small-business loan for my “Airport Pony Express.” I even invested in tiny ponies to carry the guide dogs and liquor bottles beside the main pony. KHAN!!!

  2. Now, when are they going to penalize pharmacists who refuse to fill perscriptions for certain medications?

  3. Nemesis_Enforcer says:

    Awesome about time someone pulls thier head out and looks out for the passengers. Hooray Minnesota!

  4. Dag says:

    Good. If your religion prevents you from doing your job properly, you shouldn’t be doing that job. Now we need to see similar rules for pharmacists who refuse to dispense birth control.

  5. niccernicus says:

    “Some also have refused to transport dogs, both pets and guide dogs, saying they are unclean.”

    Isn’t that like the pot calling the kettle…..


  6. mac-phisto says:

    good. & b/c refusing to service a person with a guide dog is a violation of federal law, i think they should lose their license indefinitely.

  7. MaliBoo Radley says:
  8. Dervish says:


    Agreed. There’s religious tolerance, and then there’s interfering with daily life and being refused basic services.

    Minnesota (at least the Twin Cities metro area) is also currently dealing with a few isolated incidents in which cashiers at grocery stores refuse to scan pork products.

  9. Nemesis_Enforcer says:

    @n1ckel5: I shot Coke on my monitor on that one…ROFLMAO!!!

  10. tvh2k says:

    I’m confused — in NYC I thought short-haul trips were more lucrative than longer trips, not the other way around. Or am I mistaken?

  11. Jozef says:

    @Nemesis_Enforcer: As long as you have a flat screen you can lie it flat down and snort the coke back in without too much loss ;)

  12. This might be a real boon for the Minneapolis tourist industry, as conservative tourists book trips to Minnesota just to bring a six-pack and a dog, on the hopes of being refused service…

  13. raybury says:

    I ask every time this comes up in every forum I frequent: What about ethanol in gasoline? Note that the alcohol added to gasoline nationwide, ethanol, is the same type of alcohol in beverages.

  14. Canadian Impostor says:

    @raybury: That seems logical, but I wouldn’t waste my time thinking up logical holes in religious arguments.

  15. jamier says:

    raybury: what about that whole “god creating the universe in seven days” thing? it’s called religion because it doesn’t make sense.

  16. suckonthat says:

    How they hell do they plan on enforcing this? The passenger quickly scribbles down their license info before being forced out of the cab?

  17. Bluefreak says:

    @tvh2k: Not when you’ve spent an hour at the airport waiting for a fare. The reason that they decide to wait the hour is for the hope of netting a nice large fare into Manhattan, not to get someone who is only going to net them a buck or two.

    Some airports try to solve this disparity by issuing “short turn” tickets to departing taxis–if they are back at the airport before a certain time has elapsed (because it was a cheap fare), they can jump the taxi queue and pick up a new fare immediately.

  18. erika says:

    @suckonthat: Usually at airport cab stands they have a person who directs the passengers to the cab. I imagine that that person would be the one to note the offence.

  19. Nemesis_Enforcer says:

    @Jozef: Yeah I am not sure my work would dig that one. I have 2 flat screens but I am not going to tempt the IT gods by messing with them.

  20. etinterrapax says:

    I have a feeling that the pharmacy situation will turn out to be one of those times when the folks at the bottom take it much harder than the folks at the top. I don’t think either group has the right to refuse to do their jobs for religious objections, but pharmacists are well-educated and well-paid, and they won’t capitulate nearly as easily as cabdrivers. Nor, I suspect, will they identify them as compatriots in the cause.

  21. jgodsey says:

    great now can we please do something about christian dentists and drs refusing service to folks who don’t share their same morality? THEY should lose their licenses.

  22. valet_of_the_dolls says:

    @n1ckel5: Are you seriously suggesting that Muslims are unclean? Or taxi drivers in general? WTF?

  23. mopar_man says:

    It’s about time something like this happened. Canada and the US have both been doing too much backward bending to make everybody happy. What happened to the days of “don’t like it, get the hell out”?

  24. matt1978 says:

    @mopar_man: You are super right on the money.

  25. Buran says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation: That’s what I’d like to know. I’ve never had a prescription refused on those grounds but if I ever do you can bet I’ll be demanding a supervisor immediately and climbing the chain (or just writing to “executive support”) if I don’t get my medicine.

    What I take is between myself and my doctor and no one else.

  26. whydidnt says:

    I don’t think the pharmacy situation is directly comparable. Nobody says these drivers HAVE to carry alcohol. The Metropolitan Airport Commission simply said “if you don’t carry these people, you no longer are licensed to pickup at the airport.” There currently aren’t any laws in MN preventing these drivers from “exercising their religious freedom” elsewhere in the greater Twin Cities area.

    I don’t know that it has happened, but imagine there may be a pharmacy somewhere that has done the same sort of thing (or at least it’s within their rights) – telling their pharmacist, “if you refuse to sell birth control then you can’t work here.” However, in that situation, there aren’t currently any laws that prevent that pharmacist from working elsewhere.

    My point is that it’s not an economic status thing as much as it is about place of work rules. Here in Minnesota, there are very few of us that think the Muslim community will simply accept these work rules without a fight, however misguided some of us think they are.

  27. @whydidnt: But in several states it’s actually illegal for the pharmacy to require the pharmacists to fill all perscriptions no matter what. They have to let the pharmacist refuse on religious grounds.

  28. B Tex says:


    they both stink@valet_of_the_dolls:

  29. Nemesis_Enforcer says:

    @valet_of_the_dolls: Um yes and yes. I have only had 1 or 2 cab drivers that didnt make me want to dive back out of the cab once I sampled thier aroma…

    Ok so most muslims in america who are not recent immigrants are just like everyone else. But the ones that are typically driving cabs are pretty fresh to the country and are not aware of typical customs of our country.

    And before anyone calls me out for being a bigot, I have spent a couple of 6 month tours in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. And I have traveled over a great deal of the mideast and Africa. So I am speaking from experiance and not any dislike or hatred…

  30. indianaguy says:


    that is a completely asnine comment. The free market should take care of those things. The government needs to get our our business and let us make the choices we want. If i as a doctor refuse service to you you can go to another doctor. I am then alienating a certain population of my potential customers. That should be my choice. There are enough doctors in this nation that it would never be a problem.

    This is exactly what should happen. A company has the right to govern it’s business practices. As an employee those cab drivers have the choice, they can either pick up those customers or be out of a job ( and try and get one elsewhere ). You have no intrinsic right for cab service ( and shockingly you have no intrisic right for health care )

  31. sodium says:

    I can’t comment on the cleanliness of these cabbies, but as a Muslim, I can say that their interpretation of the religious rules against transporting alcohol is messed up. To begin with, the ban is on profiting from transporting alcohol – i.e. being a distributor, running a trucking company, etc., that traffics in booze. For a cabbie, the deal is the same for them whether or not the fare has a bottle of duty-free whiskey in the carryon. Ergo, no harm no foul.

    I’m glad they imposed these punishments. People who want to hit others over the head (literally or figuratively!) should get out of these kinds of professions. Pharmacists included.

  32. Nemesis_Enforcer says:

    @sodium: Agreed!

  33. formergr says:

    @indianaguy: There are enough doctors in this nation, but not usually enough in a person’s HMO/PPO/crap insurance mandated list of doctor’s who are actually accepting new patients.

    And in many more rural communities, just going to another pharmacy or physician can actually be quite difficult or complicated.

    And while we have no intrinsic right for cab service, the cab driver has no intrinsic right to a medallion. In order to get one, he or she agrees to the rules set out by the city who gives them out. For many cities, this includes not speaking on a cell phone while driving (ha!), being required to accept credit cards, having a certified or inspected meter, picking up a minimum # of fares in an underserved neighborhood/day, etc. In Minneapolis’ case, they’ve now added a stipulation re: fares with dogs or alcohol.

  34. Art Vandelay says:

    @indianaguy: Wait, so the government shouldn’t regulate doctors/pharmacists who refuse service based on their faith, but should intervene when cabbies refuse service based on their faith?

    Your post makes no sense.

  35. Craig says:

    This is ridiculous…I completely agree with indianaguy. The rest of you are spewing a “you don’t have the right to tell me what to do but I have the right to tell you what to do” mentality.

  36. faust1200 says:

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  37. kerry says:

    @indianaguy: Not if you’re in an emergency room. Women have been refused emergency contraception by emergency room physicians and nurses after being raped, based on religious principles. You can’t always just go to another doctor, especially in a situation where time is of the essence.
    That said, people operating private practices can do whatever the hell they want, as their patients do have the option to take their business elsewhere. I only ask that they be up front with any potential ethical conflicts so as not to waste anyone’s time and/or money.
    As for the cabbies, not carrying assistance dogs is a new one on me, and totally reprehensible.

  38. niccernicus says:



    Have you ever been in a cleanly cab, regardless of the race or religion? I haven’t. But, I haven’t lost hope!

  39. ManWithLostPassword says:

    To those complaining about the middle eastern and African people not being clean, especially the dude or dudette talking out of experience, you should understand or know from the experience that, in these regions, water is a scarce commodity, and taking 3 showers a day is a luxury that most of these poor people can not afford. When they come here, to the states side, they acclimate but well acclimated ones do not drive cabs in NYC, Twin Cities or anywhere else for that matter. Do you want to talk about the cleanliness habits of some truckers I see daily on my commute, which are/were born and raised in the middle of civilization ?

    Making remarks on people’s ethnic origins is easy and shows how shallow your train of thought is as much.

    When it comes to the matter of refusing to do what they are supposed to perform as their job, on religious concerns, I have no sympathy towards those people. This is a free country and I am sure there will be others who would perform the same tasks without any religious hang ups. If these people were working for me, well, they can’t or first time they do such a thing is their last time. Then of course come hell or high water from ACLU, which is another sore point that needs to be erased from the landscape. I am fed up with this political correctness bull crap. I have opinions and if you don’t like them, door is that way.

  40. indianaguy says:


    I never said such a thing, I said that the government shouldn’t come in to give either preferential treatment.


    i agree, the cab driver doens’t have an special pass to do what he wants, like I ALREADY SAID

    “As an employee those cab drivers have the choice, they can either pick up those customers or be out of a job”

    Also you give these exceptions, like HMO or pharmacies.

    Heres the thing, you make those choices. Nothing in the world says that things are going to be convienent for you. As a matter of fact if your making a statement by moving to another doctor/pharmacy then it will more than likely be inconvienent.

  41. niccernicus says:


    I’ll bite on this one! Most cab drivers stink. Don’t know why, but they do. Even in 50,000 populated LaCrosse, WI, they stunk. Sorry if I have offended any WI cabbies, but a lot of you stink.

    And yes, truckers stink too. I deal with them daily. I understand their position a bit more, since their job is not dealing with the public 100% of the time.

    You want a tip on your fare, take a shower. Soap works on all races.

  42. unwritten07 says:

    ‘I have opinions and if you don’t like them, door is that way.’

    Are you my ex-husband? lol

  43. Canadian Impostor says:

    This went from taxi discussion to klan meeting real fast.

  44. EtherealStrife says:


    Have you ever been to Mexico City, and been on the metro? Nothing can compare with that.

    The problem is with cab drivers and FoBs in general, not Muslims. Muslims actually wash before prayer, which is more than can be said for a good chunk of the local bum churchgoers.

    Any withholding of service based on religious grounds should be immediately punished. Period. If you can’t do your job, then your butt needs to be fired asap. I’m looking at you, taxi drivers, pharmacists, and food services workers.

  45. bluegus32 says:

    Gimme an A — A!

    Gimme a C — C!

    Gimme an L — L!

    Gimme a U — U!

    What’s that spell? ACLU!

    How long until those goofballs step in on behalf of the cab drivers and defend them on religious freedom grounds? Anyone want to take bets?

  46. Spider Jerusalem says:

    I like this hate-on for the ACLU. No really, it does my heart good. Especially since the ACLU is pretty much the only group in any position of power to also DEFEND us from religious nuts. Remember Cobb County voting out evolution? Remember who filed over it?

    And don’t give me that “well, they voted for it, good enough for me!” or “If you don’t like it, don’t live in Cobb County!” bull. They are American citizens and have a duty to the Constitution before their own opinions. Until the Constitution is amended (and yeah, watch that happen), the Establishment Clause is in full force and effect in public schools.

  47. MentalDisconnect says:

    I live my life by a set of fairly strict religious guidelines, similiar to these taxi drivers. I am Jewish, wear a kippah, don’t eat pork, etc. Yet I won’t let my religious beliefs interfere with my job, and if they do to a point where I would be compromising myself, I wouldn’t take the job. For example, I couldn’t work at the Saturday-Only Porkatorium (courtesy of Jon Stewart). But, I’ve worked as a cashier, and I don’t mind scanning in someone’s bacon. For the cabbies, I think they are overreacting, there’s following your beliefs and than being irrational. If it really makes them so uncomfortable, as stated before, they can find a different job. Discriminating against those with guide dogs certainly seems unfair.

    (Now of course I have to ask myself, if I were a cabby, would I transport a pig? Hmmm… )

  48. @spiderjerusalem: I agree, I doubt the ACLU would side with the cabbies in this case.

  49. bluegus32 says:

    @spiderjerusalem: Just because an organization, from time to time, does a good thing does not mean that it is a good organization. Nor does their occasional good deed effectively overshadow the many, many crazy things they do.

  50. mathew says:

    The funny thing is, though, the religious whackos hate the ACLU for standing up against mandatory prayer in schools and similar stuff.

    If the ACLU can piss off people on both sides, they must be doing something right.

  51. Morgan says:

    Huh. Here I was about to say that the occasional crazy things the ACLU does doesn’t effectively overshadow the many, many good deeds they do. Different perspectives, I suppose, but I always thought it was nice that there was an organization that wanted to protect everyone’s liberties, even if I don’t agree with them.

  52. arelys521 says:

    Maybe it’s the cabs that stink, not the cabbies.

    Anyway, being from Minneapolis, I feel like the whole rejecting fares based on religion deal is just part of visiting here. We’ve got lots of refugees here, and lots of different cultures. So if you get rejected by your cab at the airport, it’s kind of like our little state saying, “Welcome to Minnesota. We’re quirky. It’s our thing.”

  53. Nemesis_Enforcer says:

    @ManWithLostPassword: Please see my post above…Ok so most muslims in America who are not recent immigrants are just like everyone else. But the ones that are typically driving cabs are pretty fresh to the country and are not aware of typical customs of our country.
    I am aware of problems relating to water in other parts of the world. I was just stating that the ones who smell here haven’t grasped the custom we have of bathing regularly. But I still wonder why the French stink so bad when they have access to water?..

    @Jason: Speaking about other groups does not constitute a Klan meeting. I haven’t seen one post calling for anyone to be beaten or hanged yet…

  54. Trick says:

    I wonder how tolerant these “religion of peace” types would be if I were to go to their so-called country and demand they do things my way?

    I mean, as a white American male surely I can expect the “religion of peace” to accept me for who I am and embrace my ideology?


  55. superlayne says:

    I’m kind of tired or America bending over backwards not to inconvenience anyone. I don’t want to learn Spanish, I don’t want to convert to Christianity, Islam, or any other religion, and I definitely don’t want to have to follow their religious rules, just so I don’t offend them.
    I want to be able to eat pork, take birth control, and keep my faithless head from bowing in school prayer.
    I don’t care if they have their religion. I think that’s fine and hunky-dory.
    I do care when it affects me.
    They have a right to religion, but I have a right to a lack thereof as well.
    I’m going to go pet a dog out of spite now, then cuddle up with my kitten.
    I can do that.

  56. DJK says:

    Joyous news. Pharmacists next!

  57. @mopar_man: I think we called it the First Amendment.

  58. @spiderjerusalem: “Remember Cobb County voting out evolution? Remember who filed over it?”

    Dude, my uncle was totally the biology teacher who precipitated the case by refusing to stop teaching evolution at the high school and mocking the stickers in class. (And to all you religion-haters, he’s an uber-Catholic. THAT’S WHY HE’S ALL INTO THE TRUTH about evolution and science and shit.)

  59. unwritten07 says:

    This is all about one individual trying to force their own morality onto another. I’m sick and tired of people trying to convince me that their brand (or the lack) of religion is the best.

    Chances are, each cabbie takes a dozen unmarried couples to local hotels each day before refusing one heathen, booze-toting fare. Do they ask each woman to prove that the male with them is their husband, father, or brother? If helping someone transport alcohol is forbidden then why hold a job that makes you an ‘adultery-enabler’?

    I can see it now. Pharmacists will be able to ask if that Viagra will be used only with the opposite-sex spouse of the customer and refuse if they don’t like the answer. Are you sure you need this anti-depressant? Maybe you should read this book by L. Ron Hubbard. What is this antibiotic really for young lady? Sinuses? Sure it is…

    I don’t want my pharmacist to concern his or herself with my moral health. If my doctor prescribed it, then hand it over. If this conflicts with your religious beliefs then go to confession (or the equivalent) and leave me out of it.

    My beliefs are mine, I’m not running around trying to save anyone, I don’t want to be inhibited by yours.

    Just do your freaking job, I’ll pay you, then we’ll go on about our lives.

  60. tz says:

    Where’s MADD? Don’t they already reject smokers? Why are some vices protected and others are required to stop?

    Let there be freedom of association. Let the owner of the Cab decide whom they want to serve or not. And what they want to allow in the back seat.

  61. Spider Jerusalem says:

    @Eyebrows McGee:

    I’m not a dude, but that association (your uncle is the biology teacher) makes me happy.

    Maybe they should require people to carry a sticker on the side of their cab saying they don’t transport alcohol, dogs, pork, single women, etc, and save people the pain of getting rejected when they manage to flag down a cab. I think the big thing is that if you want a cab, you want it for convenience or safety, and obviously wasting time negotiating with and getting rejected by a cabbie promotes neither safety nor convenience.

  62. GleamingCubes says:

    No one seems to get the Pharmacist issue. They are not declining to provide birth control to impose their morals upon you, they do so to avoid violating their own moral code by cooperating in what they believe is abortion. In most cases their is someone else on staff who will dispense the medication. This usually happens without the customer even knowing the issue exists. In many states, even this is now aganst the law and results in penalties for the pharmicist. This is a violation of the pharmacists religious freedom in that the government is now restricting their ability to practice their religous beliefs. The ACLU will not take up their cause because they are only interested in protecting the rights of those they agree with.

  63. M3wThr33 says:

    The 1st amendment protects freedom of speech FROM THE GOVERNMENT and nothing else. Businesses are an entirely different matter.

  64. acambras says:


    There’s a difference between rejecting a smoker and prohibiting smoking. One is directed at the person, the other at the behavior.

  65. dantsea says:

    Is this happening to any great degree in any other city? Why Minneapolis and (presumably) nowhere else? And as unwritten07 pointed out, it seems they’re doing some rather bizarre picking and choosing as to what parts of their faith invoke their personal no-service rules. Perhaps they’re trying to emulate those hypochristians who pick and choose from the bible?

    But why Minneapolis? Why not San Francisco, or New York or Los Angeles? Why are the Muslims in Minnesota so delicate compared to their coastal counterparts?

  66. silenuswise says:

    Some people seem to be forgetting that licensed occupations, by definition, have regulations established by local, state, or federal institutions. Simply put, being a cab driver or pharmacist is not about your “inherent” rights–it is a privilege, and it is a function of society that carries numerous responsibilities. This includes necessary restrictions to ensure the safety and rights of the individuals and communities being served.

    So, no, these questions are not simply a matter of a cab driver’s or pharmacist’s “rights”; rather, they’re questions a community has the power to answer as it sees fit. If it is legislated that a cab driver license holder must follow X number of regulations, then that’s the end of the story. Same with pharmacists, doctors, etc. Holding a license to practice medicine is a privilege, not a right. A privilege which, when abused, can and should be revoked.

  67. shdwsclan says:

    There was a similar story about cab drivers refusing to pick up black passengers or go into black neighborhoods.
    There was a story like this in chicago a couple years back.