Briton sues easyJet after being forced to abandon seat of Orthodox Jewish men – world news


An Anglo-Israeli woman is suing easyJet for discrimination after being forced to change seats to accommodate an ultra-Orthodox Jew.Melanie Wolfson, 38, says she was forced to move seats so father and son did not have to sit next to a woman.

She is suing the low-cost airline for 66,438 shekels (£ 14,800) in compensation for the London-Tel Aviv flight, according to a lawsuit filed last week on her behalf.

The complainant, a fundraiser, is asking the airline to change its guidelines for flight crews to ban them from asking women to change seats based on their gender.

In response, easyJet said it “does not discriminate on any grounds”.

According to Haaretz, Ms Wolfson wants female passengers to be allowed to defend their right to sit in their seats.

Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men in traditional dress in Israel (stock photo)

EasyJet is one of the few airlines that flies direct from London to Tel Aviv’s hotspot of trendy tourism and nightlife.

The newspaper reports that the lawsuit says the incident took place on October 10, 2019 and that it was the first of two similar encounters which it claims took place on easyJet trips.

Ms Wolfson says she had already paid extra to reserve an aisle seat when she found an ultra-Orthodox man and his son sitting in the row upon arrival.

As soon as she sat down, the son allegedly got out of her seat and climbed into the row behind the seats, presumably to avoid physical contact with her for religious reasons.

The son then looked for a male passenger who would be willing to change seats with her, although Ms Wolfson would rather stay put.

She wants easyJet to change its policy on requests for seats based on religion and gender

The costume claims a few minutes later he returned, and the father asked him to change seats with a man a few rows ahead of the trio.

Ms Wolfson says flight attendants offered her a free hot drink to move the seats and explained to her that it was common for flight attendants to ask female passengers to come to greet ultra-Orthodox men.

She also claims that flight attendants encouraged her to complain to the airline in the hopes it might force a change in controversial policy.

Ms Wolfson said she made it clear that she was not impressed but ended up moving because she didn’t want to delay the entire flight.

But she said she felt “insulted and humiliated” by the demand that she move.

“It was the first time in my adult life that I was discriminated against because I was a woman,” she told Haaretz.

“I would have had no problem changing seats if it had allowed family or friends to sit together, but the fact that I was asked to do so because I was a woman was the reason I refused.

Old Jaffa in the popular tourist destination of Tel Aviv

She added: “What was even more infuriating was that there were passengers watching this happen and not saying anything. ”

She said she filed a formal complaint against easyJet about a month after the flight.

She based her complaint on the staff’s claimed request to move seats because of her gender, she noted in the complaint, which her complaint claims is a violation of anti-discrimination laws.

But two months after the flight, she flew with easyJet – this time back to London – and claims the same thing happened again.

She says she received no response to her complaint when she got on the plane and was again asked to move seats by two ultra-Orthodox men.

She claims that this time, other female passengers agreed to change seats with the men so Ms. Wolfson wouldn’t have to move.

But she claims that once again the flight attendants did not try to intervene or defend her seat rights and again offered a free hot drink in compensation.

Key landmarks like the sacred Western Wall prayer site in Jerusalem are controversial by gender

She says she filed a second complaint several days later, and when she never got a response, she decided to take legal action.

She would take legal action on the basis of an Israeli law enacted in 2000, which prohibits discrimination against clients on the basis of their race, religion, nationality, country of origin, sex, sexual orientation, opinions. policies or personal status.

Ms Wolfson is said to be backed in her lawsuit by the Israel Religious Action Center (IRC) – the advocacy arm of the Jewish reform movement that challenges issues such as gender segregation.

Although easyJet is not based in Israel, the IRAC will argue that the first incident was subject to Israeli law while the plane was on the ground at Ben-Gurion International Airport, where the first incident took place.

A spokesperson for the airline told Mirror Online: “At EasyJet, we take complaints of this nature very seriously. While it would be inappropriate to comment, as this matter is currently the subject of legal proceedings, we do not discriminate on any basis. ”

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Gender issues can sow discord among Jewish communities, as liberal and reformist supporters resent the desire of ultra-Orthodox men to avoid women in public spaces.

In 2017, the IRAC won a groundbreaking case against another Israeli airline El Al, involving a situation similar to that of Ms Wolfson.

Renee Rabinowitz, Holocaust survivor and lawyer, won compensation from the airline after being pressured by flight attendants to move her seats when an ultra-Orthodox man refused to go. sit next to her.

The court also ruled that El Al could no longer require seat changes based on gender and must formally incorporate the rules and train staff in them.

Mirror Online has contacted Ms Wolfson for comment.

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