Cab company owner suspended, fined over allegations he harassed and verbally abused women

I know many readers of the Bangor Daily News and its affiliated blogs have been following the case of Portland’s Yellow Cab company and its owner, who allegedly berated two women who refused to get in his taxi and provide his male passengers with some kind of unspecified birthday treatment (more on that in a moment).

The whole interaction would be difficult to put in shorthand for recap here, but one of the two women, Amber Dorcus, chronicled the events in a post on her blog, and BDN bloggers Alex Steed and Chris Shorr followed up with commentaries soon thereafter.

I’ll include some excerpts at the end of this post for context, if you need it, but fair warning: It includes some vulgar language.

In any event, Dorcus filed a complaint with the city, which licenses taxi cabs and has rules governing the conduct of their drivers, and a hearing was held on the complaint early this month.

Leading into that hearing, Yellow Cab owner Abderrahim Lembarra — whose name is listed as Abraham and Abderrham in other city documents and business listings — and his representatives argued that the accusations were false and an attempt by a rival cab company to ruin his reputation.

Last week, the city officer who oversaw the complaint hearing earlier this month issued her decision on the case, and sided with Dorcus, calling for $250 fines for both Lembarra and his company — totaling $500 — and suspensions of Lembarra’s taxi driver’s license and business license for 30 days.

Lembarra is now within a 30-day window within which he can appeal that decision to City Manager Mark Rees.

As promised, here are some excerpts from Dorcus’ original blog post, which gave this case high visibility in the Portland area:

[T]he driver of said taxi cab … rolled down the passenger side window and yelled out to us, “Hey ladies!”  We both looked over assuming he was going to ask us a question…maybe he’s lost? Maybe he needs to know if [the nearby] restaurant is still serving food? Maybe. But nope. Here is what he said: “Ladies! So, this guy (points to the passenger), it’s his birthday today and I told him I would find him some nice girls for his birthday!” My best friend, being who she is, responds immediately with, “Well, too bad for him. We’re not nice.” Meanwhile, Amber has immediately been thrust into the ear ringing, adrenaline pumping, red rage and stands there staring…dumbfounded. He laughs and says, “All the better! Come on! It’s his birthday!!”  Of course the passenger and his two friends in the back laugh and clap … so, I say, “Drive on. Now.” He doesn’t and proceeds to say, “WHAT?! What’s wrong with you? Just get in. Have some fun!”  

Dorcus wrote that she ultimately threatened to call the cab company’s phone number and report the driver’s behavior, to which the driver then allegedly berated her with expletives and drove off. When she called the company number, she wrote that she discovered the same man who’d been driving the taxi was the one answering the phone, and he renewed his verbal assault, according to Dorcus, with the following tirade:

[Y]ou’re a miserable b*tch and you want to make everyone around you just as miserable so you can make yourself feel better.You skinny wh*re. No wonder you don’t have a boyfriend. You know I would date you, but I don’t like skinny ass c*nts! You know what you should do? You should drive to the grocery store right now. No seriously, right now and buy a zucchini because that’s the only way you’re ever gonna get any!

Again, Lembarra and his representatives have argued that these accusations are untrue. The city’s taxi enforcement officer and hearing officer both found them credible, however, and have now levied significant fines and suspensions against Lembarra, pending appeal.

Seth Koenig

About Seth Koenig

Seth has nearly a decade of professional journalism experience and writes about the greater Portland region.