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Muslim taxi driver loses dress code legal battle against operator due to self-employment status

Updated: Aug 17, 2021

Image credit: Ross Campbell

A Muslim taxi driver from Leeds attempted to sue a local taxi firm after he was BANNED from wearing traditional South Asian clothing and told to wear 'smart western' clothing under its strict dress code.

In an Employment Tribunal cabbie Zulquarnain Ali claimed he was discriminated based on the grounds of his religion because he was not allowed to wear his shalwar kameez. The cabbie wore the South Asian garment to allow entry into the mosque to pray.

According to the judgment sent to parties on 17 June, Leeds Taxi Owners Ltd temporarily suspended the hackney carriage driver from its platform when it was claimed he was breaching the dress code policy by wearing the traditional garments while working.

In the tribunal report Judge Davies ruled Mr Ali cannot move forwards with his claim against the Leeds operator as he was a self-employed worker, not an employee.

Judge Davies said: “I find that the Claimant falls on the side of the line of being in business on his own account and able to look after himself in the relevant respects.

“He is a hackney carriage driver plying his trade.

“He can choose at any time simply to pick up street fares. He can go down to the station and pick up passengers there, join a taxi rank or stop if somebody flags him down.

“He chose to sign up with the Respondent. He chose initially to pay 10% to have access to the cash and credit card work. He chose later to pay 10% and a membership fee so as to have access to the account work as well. Having regard to the context of the way he works, I find that was in the nature of a business decision taken by him.”

The judge added: “He does not have any obligation to logon and do that work at any time. When he is logged on, he can press the flag down button and pick up a street fare at any time. He is essentially choosing between different available sources of work throughout his working time. If there is street work available, he can take it. If there is not, he can see whether the Respondent has system work available.

“I find that in that way the Claimant is fundamentally running a self- employed business as a taxi driver on his own account.

“One source of work for his business, which he can choose to exploit, is the Respondent’s system work. He can look after himself in the relevant respects.”


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