LOS ANGELES—The Los Angeles Superior Court granted a temporary restraining order against the City of Santa Monica’s decision to award a taxi franchise that excluded every Armenian-owned taxi company in the city on Wednesday, December 22.
The temporary restraining order is based on a lawsuit against the City of Santa Monica by the Taxi Drivers Association, a newly formed coalition of Armenian owned and operated taxi companies and drivers, which seeks compensation for ethnic based discrimination. The restraining order sets the hearing for a preliminary injunction and delays the start of the franchises in January.
“We are very pleased to announce that our effort on behalf of the Armenian-owned and operated taxi cabs in Santa Monica has led to victory in the first legal hurdle,” said attorney Nora Hovsepian, Community Relations Chair at the Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region. “The ANCA-WR took the lead in laying the groundwork and amassing the evidence to build a case for discrimination against the City of Santa Monica and today’s temporary restraining order is an indication that there are enough legal grounds to challenge the City’s decision to exclude the Armenian owned companies.”
The ANCA-WR and the Armenian Youth Federation led the charge on behalf of the taxi drivers: attending and speaking at the Santa Monica City Council, meeting with individual council members, persistently requesting public records disclosures, conducting a public relations campaign to raise awareness of this issue and through all these efforts – developing the foundation for a lawsuit against the City.
“This is an extremely important breakthrough in the ongoing struggle to secure justice for the taxi drivers of Santa Monica,” said Serouj Aprahamian, Executive Director of the Armenian Youth Federation. “It is incumbent upon us to continue standing in solidarity with those fighting for a fair, more inclusive awarding of taxi franchises in Santa Monica. As Armenian-American youth, we vow to remain vigilant on this, and any other, matter affecting the well-being of our community.”
After months of groundwork – raising awareness of the issues and documenting the discrimination charge compiled by the ANCA-WR – the law office of Geragos and Geragos was retained to take this matter up within the legal system. Tamar Arminak of Geragos’ office successfully convinced the court to grant the temporary restraining order. The next step will be to turn the Temporary Restraining Order into a preliminary injunction thereby preventing the City of Santa Monica from excluding Armenian taxi drivers in 2011.
“This action could save the jobs and livelihood of at least 300 Armenian families who rely on their income from taxi cabs operating exclusively in Santa Monica, and we expect further legal victories to achieve permanent justice for them,” Nora Hovsepian a community activist involved in the issue said.
The Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region is the largest Armenian American grassroots advocacy organization which advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad range of issues.
The Armenian Youth Federation is the largest and most influential Armenian American youth organization in the United States, working to advance the social, political, educational and cultural awareness of Armenian-American youth.