Target: CEO of El Al, David Maimon
Goal: Apologize and fulfill reparations to elderly woman that was allegedly asked to switch seats because a strictly Orthodox Jewish male passenger refused to sit next to a woman.
A flight attendant on Israel’s flag carrier reportedly asked a woman to change seats after an Orthodox Jewish male refused to sit next to her. Reports say the man believed it was against strict observance of his Jewish faith to sit next to a woman and thus asked that she be moved to another seat. Not surprisingly, the woman then sued the airline on grounds of gender discrimination but El Al reportedly denies that any discrimination took place.
Renee Rabinowitz, the woman in question, claims that she had already taken her seat in business class when “this rather distinguished-looking man in Hasidic or Haredi garb… around 50 or so, shows up.” After the man had a conversation in Hebrew with a flight attendant nearby, she was offered a seat closer to first class under the pretext that the seat was “better” than the one she already had. When Rabinowitz asked if it was the man who wanted her to move, she claimed the flight attendant said “yes.”
A retired lawyer with a doctorate in psychology, Rabinowitz escaped Nazi Germany as a child with her parents. To again face discrimination for any reason on the airline so closely linked to her heritage was a gross insult. As a result, she sued the airline for the equivalent of about $13,000. The airline responded by offering a $200 discount on her next ticket purchase instead and insisted that even if she felt pressured to move she made the choice to comply on her own, and thus they were not responsible.
As of 2011, requiring women to sit separately from men is no longer supported by law. However, many ultra-religious Jewish men still request separate seating on public transportation on the ground and in the skies. Add your name to the petition to show your condemnation for not just the flight attendant’s handling of the situation, but El Al’s refusal to accept that gender discrimination took place.
Dear Mr. Maimon,
The unfair treatment of a female passenger on your airline recently made the headlines due to claims of gender discrimination. The woman in question, Renee Rabinowitz, had already taken her seat in business class when she was reportedly asked to sit somewhere else, as per the request of an ultra-orthodox Jewish male who was assigned to the window seat in her row.
Rabinowitz claims that after the man showed up to take his seat, a conversation in Hebrew took place with a flight attendant nearby. Rabinowitz did not understand the exchange, but it ultimately ended in her being offered a “better” seat closer to first class, among other women. When she asked the flight attendant if she was being moved because the man had requested it, she was allegedly told “yes.” She reluctantly complied but not before voicing her dissatisfaction to the man.
Rabinowitz then sued your company for the equivalent of $13,000 based on gender discrimination. Your company reportedly responded with a counteroffer of a $200 discount on her next ticket with the airlines, while allegedly refusing to accept any responsibility for what had taken place. This not only shows a complete disregard for customer satisfaction, but a prejudiced approach to supporting the rights of your passengers.
We live in a world where religions and basic human rights need to be respected. We cannot achieve this goal by allowing the kind of behavior that passed for professional on your airline to continue unchecked. I urge you to further investigate the incident and to give Rabinowitz the reparations she is due because of the embarrassment she suffered at the hands of your airline.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: BriYYZ