Montreal Taxi Drivers Sue City Over Right To Wear Black Jeans

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MONTREAL — A group of more than 100 Montreal taxi drivers announced Tuesday it will sue the city over the right to wear black jeans on the job.

Cabbies say they will file an injunction in the coming days asking the court to repeal a dress code bylaw that went into force in January.

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Taxi driver Mouhcine El Meliani stands beside his cab, Sept. 6, 2016 in Montreal. (Photo: Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)

The law requires drivers to wear "long, black pants" but cabbies say city inspectors have taken it upon themselves to interpret the law as prohibiting black jeans.

"The inspectors are arrogant against all the taxi drivers in the city without exception," Mouhcine El Meliani, one of the plaintiffs, said in an interview.

"Long, black pants are all kinds of pants — it's general. It's causing us moral stress. Every time we go out on the job we fear getting fined for wearing the wrong pants."

He says he's received two tickets of $174 for wearing black jeans.

"Every time we go out on the job we fear getting fined for wearing the wrong pants."

The dress code is part of the city's ongoing reforms to modernize the heavily regulated industry.

Taxi drivers "must be dressed properly and soberly; clothing shall not be stained or torn," the bylaw reads.

Aside from the stipulation of long, black pants, drivers are allowed to wear black "Bermuda shorts" between May 1 and Sept. 30.

In Quebec, the government maintains strict caps on the number of taxi permits allowed in each city in order to ensure drivers receive a certain amount of business.

New, illegal entrants such as Uber have upset the market and politicians have been trying to find ways to make the province's taxi fleets more attractive to citizens.

"I would say the industry is very happy with all the changes."

The new rules also force drivers to get out of their car and open the door for passengers entering and exiting the vehicle.

Marie-Helene Giguere, a spokeswoman for Montreal's taxi bureau, wouldn't comment on El Meliani's case.

She said the city's "action plan" on modernizing the industry is going over well.

"I would say the industry is very happy with all the changes," Giguere said. "(Drivers) are engaged in our action plans."

She added that cabbies can always contest their tickets at municipal court.

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