The Justice Ministry’s Equal Rights Commission for Persons with Disabilities last week filed a lawsuit against the bus company Kavim, for discriminating against a disabled child, after the company’s bus driver, allegedly did not allow a wheelchair-bound child waiting at at a stop to get on the bus he was driving, CH10 reported this week (נהג ‘קווים’ ברח לילד חרדי עם כיסא גלגלים ונתבע ב-62,500).
In the lawsuit, filed by attorney Farid Mahajana, the commission is demanding NIS 62,500 ($18,350) in the name of the child and his family.
Kavim (Lines in Hebrew) is an Israeli bus company based in Holon. In 2017, Kavim won the tender to serve the Beitar Illit clutser and few routes in the Beit Shemesh area. Kavim employs about 600 drivers.
The incident in question took place in the summer of 2019, when the boy, 10, from the city of Modi’in Illit, was waiting at a bus stop sitting in his wheelchair, alongside a woman who was accompanying him.
According to the indictment, when the bus arrived at the scene he stopped a wide distance from the sidewalk, and the boy’s attendant asked the driver to come closer to the sidewalk so she could open the ramp and allow the child to get on the bus (which is the bus driver’s job).
The driver initially moved a little closer, but after the attendant asked him to get even closer because the distance was still too great to lift the seat on, he closed the bus doors and drove off, leaving the child and the attendant at the bus stop.
“The boy was shocked by the incident and even got into an emotional storm and asked to return home as the incident made him feel bad and scared of traveling on public transport for fear of encountering bus drivers such as the one who is the subject of this lawsuit,” the lawsuit said.
“This was not the first time the child encountered a driver who prevented him from using public transport, as he encountered the defendant’s bus drivers who noticed him waiting at the stop and they do not stop to pick him up as they do people without disabilities.”
The boy’s father contacted the bus company to complain about the driver and get the company’s response to the incident, however for a long time the company did not forward its detailed response, nor the driver’s response, nor did the company specify whether the driver was questioned about the incident and whether any action had been taken against him.
Following this, the father applied to the Equal Rights Commission for Persons with Disabilities, which launched an investigation following which it decided to file the lawsuit on behalf of the child.
Avrami Torem, Commissioner for Equal Rights for People with Disabilities, said in a statement: “The case for which a lawsuit was filed is particularly serious because the driver closed the door, drove off and left the child at the bus stop. This case illustrates that the problem is not only the accessibility of the bus, but the person operating it, as well as the kind of instruction to the drivers the company provides. We will continue to work to eradicate such phenomena.”