Woman ‘humiliated’ over plane seat request

 

A woman who travelled on board an easyJet flight to London is suing the budget airline after cabin crew asked her to move seats twice because the ultra-Orthodox Jewish men in her row didn't want to be seated next to a woman.

Melanie Wolfson, 38, who was born in Britain but now lives in Tel Aviv, is seeking $A27,000 in compensation and is also demanding that cabin crew employed by the airline must not ask women to swap seats because of their gender.

Ms Wolfson, who is a professional fundraiser, was flying from Tel Aviv to London in October 2019 when the incident occurred, she told the Independent.

It is understood she paid for an aisle seat, and the men complaining were in the middle and window seat in her row.

According to the publication, the man in the middle seat climbed over the seat to the row behind her to avoid physical contact, before finding a male passenger who would be willing to swap seats with her.

"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," she said.

 

Ms Wolfson said while she felt "insulted and humiliated" she complied in order to not delay the flight. But then, on another flight along the same route four months later, a similar request was made and she refused to move. In that instance, the two men next to her swapped seats with two other women on board the flight.

"It was the first time in my adult life that I was discriminated against for being a woman," she told Haaretz.

"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.

"What was even more infuriating was that there were passengers watching this happen who said nothing."

Ms Wolfson enlisted the support of the Israel Religious Action Centre to support her lawsuit, who argue that both incidents enable "a growing and worrying trend in Israel of segregating women in the public sphere".

Ms Wolfson says she was made to move seats twice because ultra-Orthodox Jewish men refused to sit next to a female passenger.
Ms Wolfson says she was made to move seats twice because ultra-Orthodox Jewish men refused to sit next to a female passenger.

"While some members of the ultra-Orthodox community misuse Judaism to justify discrimination, we are persistent in supporting women like Melanie who are standing up for their rights," centre director Rabbi Noa Sattath said.

A spokesperson for easyJet said the airline takes "claims of this nature very seriously".

"Whilst it would be inappropriate to comment, as this matter is currently the subject of legal proceedings, we do not discriminate on any grounds."

Originally published as Woman 'humiliated' over plane seat request



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