City seeks dismissal of discrimination claim

Posted: Tuesday, August 19, 2003

JUNEAU (AP) The city of Juneau is disputing a woman's claim that she has suffered racial discrimination since a city bus driver told her to get off the bus last year for eating a candy bar.

In a lawsuit filed in July, Jamila Glauber said she suffered severe emotional distress from actions that were based on her race, as an Arab, and her national origin.

Glauber emigrated from Yemen, in the Middle East. The lawsuit claims she is among a class of people protected by the Alaska Human Rights Act.

City attorney John Hartle disputes Glauber's claim and is seeking dismissal of the suit. He is representing all the defendants the city, Capital Transit and the bus driver, Tad Zurek.

''She cannot show a deliberate and intentional plan to discriminate based on some unjustifiable or arbitrary classification,'' Hartle wrote in a response to the lawsuit.

The court case has its origins in a March 22, 2002, bus ride.

Glauber told the Juneau Empire that she unwrapped a small Snickers bar on the bus and took a bite. After the driver told her eating on the bus was prohibited, she finished the candy bar with the second bite.

According to her account, the bus driver stopped twice and told her to get off, and she twice refused. At Nugget Mall, the bus driver waited for police, who asked the driver to continue to let her ride.

The suit alleges that Capital Transit's ''extreme and outrageous actions'' actions have denied her ''reasonable access to public transportation by denying her reasonable treatment.''

Glauber said she has feared for her safety and the safety of her son when she tries to use public transportation, and she is denied privileges and services equal to those afforded other patrons.

The lawsuit seeks more than $50,000 from each defendant, with actual damages to be determined at trial. It also asks for the defendants to stop harassing and discriminating against her. It does not detail continued instances of discrimination and harassment.

In Hartle's response, filed last week, he argues that the suit ''fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.''

Furthermore, he argues, the ''alleged damages were caused in whole or part by plaintiff's own actions.''

He also argues the court lacks jurisdiction in the case, and the law gives the defendants immunity from such claims.

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