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Raoul turns up the heat on bus company

Friday, Apr 19, 2019

* Ten days ago

Attorney General Kwame Raoul today announced a consent decree with a transportation company that requires it to end its practice of discriminating and harassing customers and their families. The consent decree resolves a lawsuit the Attorney General’s office filed in 2018 against Suburban Express, Inc. and owner Dennis Toeppen.

The consent decree was entered today by Judge Andrea Wood in the Northern District of Illinois to resolve allegations that Toeppen and Suburban Express discriminated against customers on the basis of race, national origin and religion; harassed customers with public shame and ridicule; and intentionally compromised customers’ personal information. Suburban Express is a company that provides bus services to students at colleges and universities in Illinois, Iowa and Indiana to the suburban Chicago area and Chicago airports.

The Attorney General’s office filed a lawsuit against Suburban Express and Dennis Toeppen alleging the defendants engaged in discrimination against customers, including a December 2017 mass-marketing email to customers that touted bus rides with, “Passengers like you. You won’t feel like you’re in China when you’re on our buses.” The lawsuit also alleged Suburban Express encouraged its employees to avoid certain students who appear not to speak English when distributing coupons for bus services. According to the lawsuit, Toeppen even posted an online video mocking Asian students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The consent decree is here.

* Two days ago

A statement on the company’s Facebook page continued to dispute the claims of the lawsuit and said the terms of the consent decree imposed “some minor requirements” on the company.

“Madigan’s lawsuit contained numerous false, unproven, unproveable (sic) and legally inconsequential allegations,” the statement said. “Suburban Express felt that it was being extorted by the state, but chose a $100k payment to state rather than spending $250k-$500k defeating the lawsuit.” […]

Suburban Express’ statement also asserted that Raoul’s office mischaracterized the agreement and said it’s considering its own legal action against Raoul and a top deputy.

“Attorney General Kwame Raoul’s press release on the matter is false and defamatory in the extreme, in that it claims his office proved the various false and unproven allegations,” the statement said.

…Adding… From the company’s website

We speak English only. If you are not fluent in English, please have someone who is fluent in English assist you with your travel plans and purchase.

Suburban Express is required to display the below paragraph by a recent agreement with hypocritcal, extortionist Illinois politician Kwame Raoul. Thinking of opening a business in IL? Think again. High taxes and opportunistic, parasitic governement [sic] place a high burden on job creators in Illinois. Note that we have never engaged in any discriminatory conduct. Rather, this is a big show foisted upon us in order to ingratiate certain voters to elected officials.

* Also Wednesday

Suburban Express and owner Dennis Toeppen have allegedly violated a consent decree reached last week with the Illinois attorney general.

According to a motion filed Wednesday morning by the AG seeking a $10,000 fine, Suburban Express posted defamatory webpages of customers and failed to post a nondiscrimination statement everywhere it was required to.

Toeppen has also brought back his notorious “Page of Shame,” which includes phone numbers, email addresses and home addresses of customers he says had dishonored payments, were “fare cheaters” or have been banned from Suburban Express.

“The Consent Decree requires Defendants ‘not to penalize customers based solely on online comments about any Defendant, including reviews,’” Assistant Attorney General Jeff VanDam wrote. “Defendants flouted this requirement immediately after entry of the Consent Decree by posting a defamatory web page that penalizes a customer through viciously attacking the customer solely for online comments about Suburban Express.”

The web page includes screenshots of that customer’s Yelp reviews of Suburban Express, links to the Google Maps page for what Toeppen says is her childhood home and links to her LinkedIn page. It also criticizes her mental health.

* Yesterday

The company also allegedly attacked a person of “Asian origin” by labeling them an “insane … spoiled child” and saying the individual reminds them of a prominent Asian-American who advocates against discrimination, adding that readers should Google that activist “for a good laugh.” […]

Reached via email Thursday, Toeppen claimed he was on vacation in the days after the consent decree was signed and stated he believed he had 30 days to “cure any breach” of the agreement, “whether intentional or accidental.”

Toeppen also took issue with the “refunds” outlined in the decree, stating that term never appears in the agreement. Instead, he says his company internally is referring to payments resulting from the decree as “Vote Purchase Payments” and “Beer Money for Suburbanites.”

The term “refunds” isn’t in the agreement, but this is

The time period for customers to seek payments under this Consent Decree shall commence on the Effective Date and shall end 180 days after the Effective Date.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - downstateR - Friday, Apr 19, 19 @ 11:03 am:

    Wow (bottom of page)

  2. - Ron Burgundy - Friday, Apr 19, 19 @ 11:07 am:

    Good for the AG. The only reason this company manages to stay in business is because thousands of new students arrive on the campuses they serve every year, and they and their parents don’t know any better.

  3. - Anon E Moose - Friday, Apr 19, 19 @ 11:13 am:

    This guy sounds like a real peach.

  4. - wordslinger - Friday, Apr 19, 19 @ 11:17 am:

    Selling point on the website:

    –Virtually all of our customers are college students. Virtually no “townies”.–

    What about Chinese townies? Are they on double-secret probation?

    Perhaps the Eastern bloc will propose building a wall around China — but a real good one this time.

    Not only is this guy a racial bigot, but he apparently believes he’s superior to the C-U hoi polloi as well.

    I’m always at a loss as to how those so obviously thick-headed like Toeppen got the idea they were superior to anyone. Did their mamas tell them that?

  5. - illinikid - Friday, Apr 19, 19 @ 11:19 am:

    And check out this one at the bottom of his other company’s page,

    We speak English only. If you are not fluent in English, please have someone who is fluent in English assist you with your travel plans and purchase.

    That and the video that he posted of himself walking though the Illinois Street Resident Hall mocking Asian students tells you all you need to know about this looser.

  6. - Dotnonymous - Friday, Apr 19, 19 @ 11:22 am:

    Suburban Express’ statement also asserted that Raoul’s office mischaracterized the agreement and said it’s considering its own legal action against Raoul and a top deputy.

    Raoul wishes they would?

  7. - Dotnonymous - Friday, Apr 19, 19 @ 11:36 am:

    Mama, don’t let your babies grow up to be… racists?

    I doubt this will continue to be a productive business model…a little time will tell?

  8. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Friday, Apr 19, 19 @ 11:38 am:

    The Bumptious Bus Line, the Clueless Coach, The Oblivious Express

  9. - Demoralized - Friday, Apr 19, 19 @ 11:48 am:

    Sounds like one heckuva company. These are the sorts of companies that should be hounded until they are forced to go out of business.

  10. - DuPage Saint - Friday, Apr 19, 19 @ 11:50 am:

    Maybe UofI could prohibit them from campus somehow or prevent them from advertising or handing out fliers
    Wonder if he would let the Chief ride in his bus

  11. - lakeside - Friday, Apr 19, 19 @ 11:54 am:

    Wild to think that no one *made* him go into the customer service industry.

  12. - Ron Burgundy - Friday, Apr 19, 19 @ 11:58 am:

    DuPage Saint — UIUC already has. The administration issued a statement condemning their practices and banning them from posting ads and picking up or dropping off passengers on campus property. That doesn’t prevent them from operating on public streets and sidewalks on campus though.

  13. - Cheryl44 - Friday, Apr 19, 19 @ 12:03 pm:

    I know a very pale teenaged boy who has been taking Mandarin for a clue of years now. I may see if he’s up for a trip to Urbana.

  14. - Cheryl44 - Friday, Apr 19, 19 @ 12:04 pm:

    I hate autocorrect. Couple of years.

  15. - Anonymous - Friday, Apr 19, 19 @ 12:08 pm:

    Apparently the bigotry goes toward religion as well:

    The suit also said company owner Dennis Toeppen posted a video that mocked U. of I. Asian students and banned customers with billing addresses in Chicago suburbs where there are sizable Jewish populations.

  16. - PublicServant - Friday, Apr 19, 19 @ 12:12 pm:

    Once the word on this goof gets out at UIUC, this company is toast.

  17. - Ron Burgundy - Friday, Apr 19, 19 @ 12:38 pm:

    PublicServant - That’s the trouble. Word doesn’t get out. As I noted above the campuses turn over so much that thousands of uninformed students hit them every year. This company has been around approx 30 years. There is competition from other bus lines and Amtrak, but options are limited.

  18. - a drop in - Friday, Apr 19, 19 @ 12:48 pm:

    “That doesn’t prevent them from operating on public streets and sidewalks on campus though”

    Sounds like great places for meetings of the Chinese Students Association. /s

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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