Minority Cabbies Sue Detroit Airport

     DETROIT (CN) - A taxi drivers association says the Detroit and Wayne County has unconstitutionally barred them from the Detroit Metro Airport as of midnight Friday, Oct. 16 because the association's 340 members are overwhelmingly foreign-born and are Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs.
     The Detroit Metropolitan Airport Taxi Association says the Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport Authority has discriminated against its cab owners and drivers for years and have ordered them to keep away from the airport in violation of a 2007 contract.
     In its federal complaint, the association airport officials have inflicted years of injuries, some petty and some major, because most of the association's workers are "minorities from the Middle East, India, Pakistan, Somalia and Bangladesh" and of "Hindu, Sikh and Muslim faith."
     The association says its drivers have had to wait up to 5 hours to pick up passengers and that airport officials have forced drivers to the end of the line over "minuscule and ridiculous claims" such as dirty or scratched vehicles, and "unfounded allegations of 'speeding.'"
     It claims that officials have unjustly confiscated drivers' IDs for honking, temporarily blocking traffic, and saying "taxi" in front of passengers. And it claims that airport officials have harassed and punished drivers prayed on airport property.
     The association says that other transportation companies are allowed to enter the airport to solicit customers, and to offer coupons and discounted rates, though its drivers have been prohibited from doing it.
     It claims that its 340 workers have to share one bathroom, one fountain and one room, without air-conditioning or heat.
     The association that it is the "sole taxicab transportation company at the airport," and that airport workers have interfered with members' work.
     Airport officials ordered the cab owners and drivers to "remove themselves and their property" by midnight on Friday Oct. 16, according to the complaint.
     Crain's Detroit Business news reported that airport officials say the association has failed to pay a concession fee of more than $534,000, and that the group rejected offers for "substantial relief."
     The association seeks damages and an injunction. is represented by Nabih Ayad of Canton, Mich.