British-Israeli woman is filing a lawsuit against easyJet, and demanding £15,000 in compensation, after she was asked to change seats on two separate flights because ultra-Orthodox Jewish men refused to sit next to a woman.
Melanie Wolfson, 38, a professional fundraiser living in Tel Aviv, is also asking easyJet to prohibit its staff from asking women to switch seats just because of their gender.
And rightly so!
Woman Sues easyJet
According to the lawsuit, Ms Wolfson moved seats on two occasions.
Last October, Ms Wolfson actually paid extra for an aisle seat on a flight to London. But an ultra-Orthodox man and his son asked her to swap seats with another man a few rows ahead.
Ms Wolfson said she was ‘insulted and humiliated’ by the request:
‘”It was the first time in my adult life that I was discriminated against for being a woman.”
“I would not have had any problem whatsoever switching seats if it were to allow members of a family or friends to sit together, but the fact that I was being asked to do this because I was a woman was why I refused.”
A flight attendant eventually intervened and offered Ms Wolfson a free hot beverage as an incentive to make the swap.
Not wanting the flight to be delayed, she eventually acquiesced and moved seats.
‘”What was even more infuriating was that there were passengers watching this happen who said nothing.”
According to the lawsuit, several flight attendants informed Ms Wolfson that women were often asked to switch seats in order to accommodate ultra-Orthodox men, to which she declared:
“It’s not legal under Israeli or UK law to discriminate against anyone in a public space according to their gender, so in this case easyJet broke the law.”
Then on 23 January 2020, on another easyJet flight to London, she was once more requested to change seats by two ultra-Orthodox men.
This time she refused their request. I personally wouldn’t have moved either.
However, two female passengers agreed to change seats with the two men sitting next to her.
Cabin crew allegedly did not defend her right to stay in her seat. Instead, she was again offered a free hot drink.
Indeed we resort to offering free drinks whenever we need to coax passengers to swap seats. But really, we shouldn’t be dealing with this headache repeatedly.
Ms Wolfson complained to easyJet on both occasions but did not get any response.
This is when she decided to sue for violation of Israeli law, which prohibits discrimination against customers on the basis of race, religion, nationality, land of origin, gender, sexual orientation, political views or personal status.
Ms Wolfson concluded:
“If there are passengers who refuse to be seated next to other passengers purely on the grounds of their gender, race, sexual orientation, religion, etc then they should either have bought all three seats in their row or be ordered off the plane before take off without receiving a ticket refund.”
I totally agree with that. In fact, some ultra-Orthodox communities already have a system in place where they can purchase full rows of seats to avoid all this hassle.
This is also a major issue for cabin crew who fly for airlines in the Gulf countries where Muslim women refuse to sit next to men.
Cabin crew are then expected to shuffle around passengers just to accommodate one lady.
What do you think?
Should changing seats just for reasons dictated by the ultra conservative beliefs be permitted?