New York City officials are updating harassment rules to spell out exactly what taxi and hire car drivers can't do—like make sexual suggestions, touch, be touched by, or ejaculate on passengers, the Independent reports. The goal is to clarify fairly broad rules so drivers and passengers know the exact do's and don'ts. "Even what some would call 'innocent flirting' is absolutely inappropriate and no passenger should be subjected to that environment," says Allan Fromberg, a rep for the Taxi and Limousine Commission. Up for vote on April 21, the proposals would also increase fines and punishments for certain offenses at a time when complaints against drivers are up 23% in the city, notes the Gothamist.
The TLC currently forbids all "threats, harassment, and abuse," and can punish drivers with a $350-$1,000 fine and 30-day suspension of license. New rules would include a $2,000 fine and permanently revoked license for "any touching of the sexual or other intimate parts of a person," either by the driver or passenger. The old rulebook "doesn't even say sexual harassment," Michael O’Loughlin of Cab Riders United told CBS New York in March. "'Abuse' and 'threats' are the words they use in the existing rule." Complaints are up from around 17,000 in 2014 to 21,000 in 2015, says the TLC, though that 23% increase is lower than the 40% increase in drivers during that time. Meanwhile, the NYPD says stranger rapes in cabs rose from 10 in 2014 to 14 in 2015.