Suburban Express responds to Madigan's subpoena over controversial ad

Suburban Express responds to Madigan's subpoena over controversial ad

CHAMPAIGN — Suburban Express has replied to a subpoena from the Illinois Attorney General following complaints about an ad many saw as racist.

"We received a response from the company, and we are reviewing it," said Annie Thompson, the attorney general's press secretary.

Attorney General Lisa Madigan issued the subpoena Dec. 4 to Suburban Express after the company emailed a promotion listing its benefits, including, "Passengers like you. You won't feel like you're in China when you're on our buses."

Suburban Express had 30 days, or until today, to respond to the subpoena. An agent at Suburban Express said owner Dennis Toeppen wasn't available for comment this week.

The subpoena sought documents, records and information that would help determine whether Suburban Express' policies and practices violated the Illinois Human Rights Act, which says that public accommodations cannot be denied to a person or group of people based on factors that include age, race, color, sex, religion, national origin, sexual orientation and gender identity.

The attorney general also encouraged people to file complaints online or at its civil-rights hotline.

The case is being handled by the attorney general's civil-rights bureau, which reviews complaints and conducts investigations to see if there are patterns or practices of discrimination.

The bureau then files lawsuits if warranted.

After Suburban Express sent its promotion, it emailed an apology that also criticized the University of Illinois for accepting so many Chinese students.

UI officials condemned both the ad and the apology, saying, "The message specifically insulted members of our Chinese, Asian and Asian American communities who are a vital and valued part of every aspect of both the University of Illinois and our local cities. These types of racist and bigoted statements attacking any members of our community deserve nothing but condemnation from all of us."

The UI also stressed that it has no business relationship with Suburban Express and doesn't allow it to pick up or drop off passengers on university property.

Nearly 6,000 Chinese students are enrolled at the UI, and its international student base is the sixth largest of any U.S. college, according to a recent report from the Institute of International Education.

On the same day Madigan issued its subpoena, Chicago Alderman Ameya Pawar called for a hearing into Suburban Express' business practices.

It's not clear if or when this hearing will take place. Pawar's office did not respond to questions Tuesday.

After the uproar, Suburban Express issued a "full apology."

"We fully apologize and accept all responsibility for our actions," the statement said. "We have been made aware of the Illinois Attorney General's investigation of our practices as well as Alderman Pawar's call for a hearing. We are working to cooperate with both, and others, to fully respond to and rectify this situation."

Suburban Express has also added a statement of inclusion to its website that says it does not discriminate.

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RatDog wrote on January 03, 2018 at 12:01 pm

This guy is a scumbag (so I've heard) but, c'mon... isnt there anything more important for the state to look into? How about incompetence at nursing homes, local trucking companies with dangerous equipment on the roads, or waste in the park districts? That comment didnt sound like much of anything.

CallSaul wrote on January 03, 2018 at 1:01 pm

We can walk and chew gum at the same time and potential racial discrimination in the provision of services to the public is not a small thing that we should just ignore... 



fuddrules wrote on January 03, 2018 at 8:01 pm

There's nothing to suggest racial discrimination.  This is about being a bully when the libs get triggered.  When they don't like words, they use their positions to bully.  Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy.  


Nothing at all will come of this.

CallSaul wrote on January 03, 2018 at 11:01 pm

Actually, it's obviously the rightwing bigots and racist snowflakes who are triggered by the AG rightfully looking into whether this company discriminates based on the owner's own words and actions.

The ads clearly show potential discrimination and his fake 'apology' clearly show racial bias. And there's an existing record of racist behavior. Maybe nothing will come of it or maybe something will...

...we'll see...

But as we discussed in a previous thread, this is why we have actual investigations instead of bowing to the demands of online randos who clearly have no problem with racism and discrimination and who insist we ignore this potential illegal behavior...

fuddrules wrote on January 04, 2018 at 12:01 pm

Absolutely nothing will come of this and you know it. Nothing.

CallSaul wrote on January 04, 2018 at 1:01 pm

No, I don't know that.

And neither, in actual reality, do you...

Again, it's very simple: this is why we actually have actual investigations instead of bowing to the demands of online racist apologists who insist that we don't investigate certain potential crimes because those potential crimes are in line with their racism and bigotry...

fuddrules wrote on January 04, 2018 at 10:01 pm

You know it, you just won’t admit it.  Nothing here 

CallSaul wrote on January 05, 2018 at 9:01 am

Mindlessly repeating delusional lies --- either that you somehow know the outcome of the investigation in advance or, even more bizarrely, that I secretly agree that you're a free range precog --- doesn't make either of your delusional lies any less delusional...

Illiniwek222 wrote on January 05, 2018 at 4:01 pm

This is just Lisa being Lisa.

Tomorrow's headline: Madigan opens investigation into abundance of Chief attire on campus.

"Illiniwek was canned seven years ago", says Lisa, "This doesn't make sense...must be the Russians."

Your tax dollars at work.