Court rules El Al cannot ask women to move seats out of respect for Orthodox

Holocaust survivor wins lawsuit against airline


An Israeli court has ruled that El AL can no longer ask women to move seats because a strictly Orthodox man refuses to sit next to them, calling it “a direct transgression of the law preventing discrimination”.

The lawsuit against the airline was brought by Renee Rabinowitz, an 82-year-old Holocaust survivor, who sued the national carrier after being asked to move when a “rather distinguished-looking man in Chasidic or Charedi garb” refused to be sat next to her on a flight in 2015.

Judge Dana Cohen-Lekah of the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court ruled that “under absolutely no circumstances can a crew member ask a passenger to move from their designated seat because the adjacent passenger doesn’t want to sit next to them due to their gender”.

Judge Cohen-Lekah ordered El Al to make its procedures clear and make their in-flight staff aware of them through writing and training. She also told the airline to pay 6,500 NIS (£1,450) in damages to Mrs Rabinowitz.

When she brought the case in February of last year, Mrs Rabinowitz said that it was “not personal - it is intellectual, ideological and legal.

“I think to myself, here I am, an older woman, educated, I’ve been around the world, and some guy can decide that I shouldn’t sit next to him”.

Speaking to the New York Times yesterday she said she was “thrilled because the judge understood the issue.

“She realised it is not a question of money; they awarded a very small sum. She realised it’s a matter of El Al changing its policy, which they have been ordered to do.”

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