Elderly Woman Sues Airliner Over Discrimination

Religious man said he wouldn't sit next to her on plane.
April 4, 2016 9:23 am Last Updated: April 4, 2016 10:16 am

A woman who flew via Israeli national airline El Al said she was forced to move because a religious man refused to sit next to her.

Renee Rabinowitz, who fled the Nazis when she was a child, has sued to the airline for $13,000.

Rabinowitz, 81, said she was discriminated against after an ultra-Orthodox Jewish man objected to sitting next to a woman. Airline staff asked the elderly woman to move as a result.

The Torah says nothing about a man sitting next to a woman.
— Renee RabinowitzIsraeli passenger

Rabinowitz, who is also Jewish, told The Guardian this week: “I asked the flight attendant point blank if the man sitting next to me had asked me to be moved, and unabashedly he said yes.”

“I then went back to the man and said: ‘I’m an 81-year-old woman, what’s your problem?'”

The man said that it is “forbidden by the Torah,” she added. “I interrupted him to say the Torah says nothing about a man sitting next to a woman,” she said.

“He conceded I was right, but said there was a general principle that a person should not put himself in a dangerous situation.”

El Al issued a statement on the matter, saying it favors the “equal treatment and respect for all passengers.”

And an El Al spokeswoman told the New York Times that discrimination between passengers is prohibited.

“In the cabin, the attendants receive different and varied requests and they try to assist as much as possible, the goal being to have the plane take off on time and for all the passengers to arrive at their destination as scheduled,” she said.

“Our employees in the air, on the ground, in Israel and around the globe do all possible to listen to and provide solutions to the concerns or requests from our customers whatever they might be, including seating requests on the airplane,” the airliner also stated.