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NYC Taxi Commission Prepares Crackdown On Sexual Harassment

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- New York City's Taxi and Limousine Commission is proposing rule changes to protect passengers from improper behavior and conversations from cabbies.

Cab drivers would be barred from any conversation related to sexual acts or contact. They also would have to refrain from making remarks referring to sexual conduct, gender and physical appearance under the proposed rule changes.

The updated language would provide clear definitions to help the agency enforce its rules and protect passengers. Spokesman Allan Fromberg said the definitions would help drivers steer clear of improper behavior.

The current rule simply states cab drivers must not engage in the harassment of any person, CBS2's Emily Smith reported.

"It actually doesn't even say sexual harassment. 'Abuse' and 'threats' are the words they use in the existing rule," Michael O'Loughlin, of Cab Riders United, said.

The commission is proposing a $1,000 fine, three points on a driver's license and a 30-day suspension for sexual harassment. Sexual contact would carry a $2,000 fine and mandatory revocation.

1010 WINS' John Montone talked to the cabbies parked in front of Penn Station to find out if they've ever crossed the line and asked a passenger out on a date.

"Never, what are you kidding me? I'm a nice Jewish boy," said Carl, who has been driving a cab for more than 50 years. "Our business is just to drive. Mind my own business, talk to the customer if the customer wants to talk."

"They come talk to me, I talk to them. Who doesn't talk, I don't talk," said Boris, who's been behind the wheel for 31 years.

Officials said there has been an uptick of complaints in all categories, not just sexual harassment, going from 17,000 a year to about 21,000 complaints a year. That's roughly a 23 percent increase, but they say more cab drivers have been added, making it more proportional.

Under the new rules, all cab drivers will have to take a course. Even what some would call "innocent flirting" would be considered inappropriate.

Taxi officials will discuss the rules at a hearing April 21.

(TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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