Cab drivers cry discrimination when forced to learn English to keep jobs

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Photo illustration: Jonaswrites

Even the capital of California has some common sense.

Sacramento’s City  Council has adopted rules requiring the city’s cab drivers to have a proof of “basic English skills,” according to CBS 13.

“The whole point is from the passenger’s perspective so that they can communicate with the driver, and get to where they need to go,” city Revenue Manager Brad Wasson said.

That seems pretty straightforward — especially since some of the proficiency questions include posers like “Another word for ‘taxi’ is a) car; b) cab; c) bus; or d) amusement.”

This isn’t the Magna Carta.

But it isn’t straightforward if you live in a state that makes its written test for a standard drivers license available in 31 languages besides English, ranging from Amharic to Vietnamese.

And it’s really not straightforward if you’re a union guy who represents cab drivers who don’t speak English – someone like Kazman Zaidi, for instance, who told CBS the new rules amount to “discrimination.”

“Maybe they can’t read English, but they can understand, and they can answer the question and where the customer need needs to go,” said Zaidi, president of the Sacramento Taxicab Union.

He estimated about 100 of his union’s 500 cab drivers wouldn’t be able to qualify under the new regulation.

“If they don’t pass this English test, they have to lose their job, you know?” he said. “And they will be out of business.”

Well, here’s an idea: How about they learn the damn language?

Kids do it every day, even in California public schools.

Check out Channel 13’s report here.

Joe Saunders

Joe Saunders, a 25-year newspaper veteran, is a staff writer and editor for BizPac Review who lives in Tallahassee and covers capital and Florida politics. Email Joe at [email protected].

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