World Jewish News
El Al is prohibited to ask a passenger to move seat because of her gender
In December 2015, Renee Rabinowitz, a 81-year-old passenger boarded El Al’s flight 81 from Newark to Tel Aviv. She was asked by a flight attendant to move her seat at the request of the Haredi passenger sitting next to her. She was offered to move to a "better" seat up front, closer to first class.
But the woman, an Holocaust survivor, later turned to the Israel Religious Action Center to represent her in suing El Al for the move.
This week, a court ruling was issued in her case, which sets a precedent. With the implementation of this ruling, passengers asked to move their seat because of their gender will qualify as discrimination and as such prohibited. Israel's flag carrier was ordered to compensate the woman.
Judge Dana Cohen-Lekach determined that "Under no circumstances should a staff member approach a passenger next to whom someone doesn't want to sit on account of the passenger's gender and ask the passenger to move to another seat on the plane, as this constitutes a violation of the law against discrimination in services."
The judge ordered El Al to instruct its employees in writing within 45 days and conduct frontal instruction within six months on the matter. In addition, the judge ordered the airline to pay Rabinovitz NIS 6,500 in damages.
Rabinovitz, herself an Orthodox religious woman, added, "My message to women in Israel is when they encounter an extremist religious ruling like this, they should each fight it in their own way."
El Al said in response to the ruling: "The sides reached an agreement that the airline's procedures on the matter would be clarified to its employees. The court validated this agreement and the company will respect the verdict."