Woman sues EasyJet for ‘humiliation’ of being asked to change seats

British-Israeli woman claims she was twice made to move when strictly Orthodox men refused to sit next to her


STANSTED, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 30: EasyJet planes are parked at a stand at Stansted Airport on June 30, 2020 in Stansted, United Kingdom. EasyJet have announced 5,000 job losses as it closes hubs at Stansted, Southend and Newcastle airports. A spokesperson also said the rest of the UK network was under review. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

A British-Israeli woman has launched a £14,800 discrimination suit against the budget airline easyJet after two incidents on flights between London and Tel Aviv.

Melanie Wolfson, who has lived in Tel Aviv for 15 years, is suing because, she claims, she was twice made to move seats when strictly Orthodox men refused to sit next to her.

Ms Wolfson is being backed in her lawsuit by IRAC, the Israel Reform Action Centre, which three years ago successfully supported a Holocaust survivor and lawyer, Renee Rabinowitz, in a lawsuit brought against El Al for a similar reason.

In that case, an Israeli court ruled that El Al could no longer demand seat changes based on gender. It said that staff had to be trained and should not pressurise female passengers to move.

EasyJet has said it was not appropriate to comment while proceedings were taking place, but has made clear that it “does not discriminate on any grounds”.

Ms Wolfson, understood to be a professional fundraiser, told Ha’aretz that she wanted easyJet to train its staff so that they are not allowed to ask women to change seats because of their gender.

Ha’aretz reported that on two separate occasions — in October last year and then two months later — Ms Wolfson was asked by flight attendants to move seats so that strictly Orthodox men did not have to sit next to her. Both times she was “offered a free hot drink” in compensation.

She complained after both incidents — in which she agreed to move rather than hold up the flights — but when she did not receive a response, decided to go ahead with legal action.

She told Ha’aretz that she had felt “insulted and humiliated” by the requests to move. She said: “It was the first time in my adult life that I was discriminated against for being a woman”.

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