Two Chicago men say they were kicked out of a taxi on a city highway because they kissed in the backseat of the vehicle.
Passengers Shadi Ramini and Seth Day said they were on their way to get drinks with friends Wednesday night when they ordered a Blue Ribbon taxi through the Uber app, and then were kicked out on Chicago’s Lake Shore Drive, leaving one of the men injured.
“We shared just a very small kiss, like a big peck, like, excited to go out,” said Ramini.
Ramini said the cab driver saw the kiss and told them he would not take them to their destination.
The driver then allegedly pulled over on Lake Shore Drive between Montrose Avenue and Irving Park Road, telling the men to get out of the car.
“I got out and then Seth still refused to get out of the car,” said Ramini, adding that about 20 feet up the road he saw Seth get out of the car as the driver took off.
"He gets tripped up in the car and that’s where he got injured," Ramini said.
Day suffered scrapes and bruises on his arms and torso, and road burn on his lower back.
“He’s still, he’s very shaken up about it,” Ramini said.
Day told NBC 5 via email that he will be OK physically, but said, “I should be able to kiss whoever I want.”
“If it had been a female I was kissing, there would have been no problem.The fact that this all happened is mind-blowing to me,” he said. “I hope that this brings up more awareness in general for this issue.”
The men say they ordered the taxi through Uber but Uber said the driver was not employed through their company.
“No rider should ever have to go through an experience like this,” Uber said in a statement. “Not only is this Chicago taxi driver’s behavior unacceptable, it’s in clear violation of Illinois’ non-discrimination law and Uber’s zero tolerance discrimination policy. The driver was immediately removed from the platform.”
The driver leases his cab through Blue Ribbon Taxi in Chicago.
"It is not appropriate [for drivers] to stop like that unless they are threatened in some way," said Alex Jelovac, office manager of Blue Ribbon Taxi, who said discrimination based on sexual orientation is "not allowed at our company."
According to the Illinois Department of Human Rights, the Illinois Human Rights Act “prohibits discrimination on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation.”
“It is a civil rights violation for any person to deny or refuse the full use and enjoyment of public accommodations, including such travel services as cab and taxi services, based upon unlawful discrimination,” the department said in a statement. “The Department of Human Rights would need to investigate any complaint to determine if there is substantial evidence of discriminatory conduct.”
Ramini and Day say they reported the incident to Chicago police. While no charges have been filed as of Friday, police said the incident is under investigation.