Woman sues Capital Transit over 2002 incident

Posted: Wednesday, July 23, 2003

It may have started with a candy bar 16 months ago, but an Arab-American woman claims Capital Transit has continued to cause her emotional distress.

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Jamila Glauber, who was told to leave a city bus for eating a bite-size Snickers bar March 22, 2002, filed suit in Juneau on Monday against Capital Transit, the city and Tad Zurek, the bus driver.

Glauber, represented by Anchorage attorney Jay W. Trumble, claims the actions of the defendants caused her severe emotional distress and were based on her race and national origin. As an Arab-American of Yemeni origin, she is protected from such actions under the Alaska Human Rights Act, the suit notes.

The suit seeks "in excess of $50,000" from each of the three defendants, with actual damages to be determined at trial.

City Attorney John Hartle said Tuesday that he could not comment on the merits of the case. "I need to find the facts and get with the department head," he said. He added that the city would file its response in court.

The suit also asks for court costs, reasonable attorney fees and an order to direct the defendants to stop harassing and discriminating against her. The suit did not detail alleged continued harassment or discrimination. Glauber didn't return phone calls seeking further comment.

After the March 2002 incident, Glauber said she was riding the bus from the University of Alaska Southeast to Harborview Elementary School to pick up her son. After she unwrapped the candy bar and took a bite, the driver told her eating was prohibited on the bus, she said.

She finished the candy bar with the second bite, and the driver twice stopped and told her to get off, according to her account. She twice refused, and the driver called police. At Nugget Mall, police asked the driver to continue to let her ride.

Glauber's suit alleges she was the victim of false imprisonment by the driver and another transit employee, causing her "extreme fear" when she was told not to leave the bus while waiting for police. No citations were issued at the scene.

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

Glauber claims she has "feared for her safety and the safety of her son when she attempts to use public transportation" and she is denied "privileges and services equal to those afforded by other patrons."

After the March 2002 incident, Ted Weiting, a Capital Transit supervisor, said the bus driver was not a racist. Weiting described Zurek as a "by-the-book kind of guy" who works well with people.

Tony Carroll can be reached at tony.carroll@juneauempire.com.

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