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New York - El Al Found Guilty Of Discrimination For Reseating Woman To Accommodate Male Passenger

Published on: June 21, 2017 07:54 PM
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FILE  -El Al flight seen at the airstrip at the Ben Gurion International Airport. February 26, 2015. Photo by Moshe Shai/FLASH90FILE -El Al flight seen at the airstrip at the Ben Gurion International Airport. February 26, 2015. Photo by Moshe Shai/FLASH90

New York - Passengers aboard Israel’s national airline who prefer not to sit next to a member of the opposite sex will no longer be able to ask flight attendants to reseat another passenger in order to accommodate their religious preferences.

That ruling came on Wednesday after a Jerusalem court decided in favor of 83 year old Holocaust survivor Renee Rabinowitz who sued El Al for discrimination after being asked to change seats to accommodate a male passenger in December 2015.

As previously reported on VIN News (http://bit.ly/2sVLfp5), Rabinowitz was traveling in business class from Newark to Tel Aviv when a Chasidic-looking man told flight attendants that he could not sit next to Rabinowitz because of his religious beliefs. 

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Flight attendants asked Rabinowitz if she would mind changing her seat and while she complied with the request, Rabinowitz said she felt slighted and filed suit against the airline in February 2016.

The New York Times (http://nyti.ms/2sVpSUw) reported that lawyers for El Al argued that the seating requests are accommodated whenever possible and that no discrimination existed because airline reseating policies apply equally to men and women. 

El Al’s attorneys also tried to demonstrate that Israeli courts have supported religious sensitivities in other cases, but the judge ruled in favor of Rabinowitz.

While Rabinowitz had originally asked for a judgment of 50,000 NIS, she agreed to an award of 6,500 NIS proposed by the judge.  El Al will be drafting new written policies within the next 45 days informing their cabin crew that gender-based requests to move another passenger are strictly forbidden and will be implementing training protocols to help flight attendants deal with similar situations.

Rabinowitz, who lives in an assisted living facility in Jerusalem, said that she was extremely happy with the verdict.

“I’m thrilled because the judge understood the issue,” said Rabinowitz.  “She realized it is not a question of money. They awarded a very small sum. She realized it’s a matter of El Al changing its policy which they have been ordered to do.”



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Read Comments (15)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Jun 21, 2017 at 08:32 PM PaulinSaudi Says:

If you want to ensure you do not sit next to someone, buy two tickets.

2

 Jun 21, 2017 at 08:42 PM Anonymous Says:

El Al could solve this problem once and for all, if it had separate seating for men (by request in advance).

3

 Jun 21, 2017 at 08:47 PM Sholi-Katz Says:

Oh My!!! A real problem - The frummers can now use big black plastic bags with a breathing hole in it - hey.....didn't they use that once already?
I think EL AL should accompany them, but do it at time of booking, where they you can request to sit next to your own gender. El Al can charge ($20-30) for this service to accommodate their headache.This way the whole plane doesn't need to be disrupted and no one will be unnecessarily insulted.
Common ground can be found.

4

 Jun 21, 2017 at 09:13 PM Reb Yid Says:

She settled after the verdict because she knew she'd lose on appeal. Sounds good to a district court judge, sounds absurd to an appellate judge.

5

 Jun 21, 2017 at 10:03 PM happypappy Says:

The chareidim will have to make their own airline. Any suggestions for names?

6

 Jun 21, 2017 at 10:48 PM triumphinwhitehouse Says:

If it was a Muslim it's be fine.

7

 Jun 21, 2017 at 10:51 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #4  
Reb Yid Says:

She settled after the verdict because she knew she'd lose on appeal. Sounds good to a district court judge, sounds absurd to an appellate judge.

Guess again. She had a winning case and settled because she didn't want money, she wanted El Al to stop discriminating against women.

8

 Jun 22, 2017 at 01:05 AM zshine Says:

True, there are many Chareidim who make an absurd fuss about their seating. So now El Al can't even make polite requests of their passengers? This woman agreed to a polite request, so she's entitled to compensation? This is absurdity in the opposite direction! Stupid Israeli judge! When it comes to freedom of speech issues, American courts are more on target.

9

 Jun 22, 2017 at 01:44 AM Moose Says:

ITS Insulting, not discriminating.
My question; why not move the man?

10

 Jun 22, 2017 at 01:59 AM Anonymous Says:

This judge is legislating from the bench. and in fact is discriminating against frum people. No one is forcing any one to give up their seat.. I fly frequently and flight attendants are asked all the time to help change seats for people, who want to sit next to family members. Mothers with young children who need a better seat then the one they were able to buy. To single out one group of people for asking to help change a seat is discrimination.

11

 Jun 22, 2017 at 06:58 AM Shlomo-1 Says:

Reply to #4  
Reb Yid Says:

She settled after the verdict because she knew she'd lose on appeal. Sounds good to a district court judge, sounds absurd to an appellate judge.

LOL...usually the winners don't appeal. She said she wasn't in this for the money but to force a change. Sometimes people don't do things for the money.

12

 Jun 22, 2017 at 08:05 AM Anonymous Says:

Good for her .

13

 Jun 22, 2017 at 09:35 AM georgeg Says:

Seems that implicitly the judge is ruling that even though a passenger made the request but because the airline forwarded the request the airline is guilty.

But the problem as I see it is that (as mentioned by others here) airlines request passengers to move all the time at the request of other passengers for all sorts of reasons. Seeing as there is no dispute about the legitimacy of such a request, the only question is the "intent" of the request, then the judge is putting the airline in the position of having to literally judge the intent of each passenger when a passenger makes a request. That is clearly an absurd, and illegitimately imposed, burden on the airline. Clearly the plane has a tight window and it simply has to make the fastest call it can and get going. An airline is not a drag-it-out-as-long-as-you-can court room.

14

 Jun 22, 2017 at 10:48 AM The Professor Says:

Reply to #5  
happypappy Says:

The chareidim will have to make their own airline. Any suggestions for names?

How about Ruach V'Reyach Airlines?

15

 Jun 22, 2017 at 03:30 PM grandpajoe Says:

How do these people who refuse to sit next to a woman, walk in the streets, to stores, basically LIVE. Years ago, these issues were not an issue - but instead of becoming stronger in our emunah we have become WEAKER - making a chillul hashem out of frumkite. The Chilul Hashem was to bother this woman a Holocaust survivor - a person who experienced the true test of Emunah - my feeling the person who asked to change her seat - should have been thrown off the airplane.

16

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