An 81-year-old Israeli-American woman is suing Israel's El Al Airlines after being asked to switch her seat because an ultra-Orthodox Jewish man refused to sit nex to her.
"I’ve been around the world, and some guy can decide that I shouldn’t sit next to him,” said the passenger, Renee Rabinowitz, according to USA Today.
The man was following a highly restrictive interpretation of Jewish law that forbids contact between any unrelated man or woman, even by accident. Several similar incidents have taken place on other Israeli airlines in recent years, although the incidents occur most often on El Al, Religion News reports.
Rabinowitz added: “This is behavior that systematically harms women’s dignity, and action must be taken so incidents like this don’t reoccur. It’s a principle.”
Rabinowitz said she was pressured by flight attendants to relinquish her seat, and that the flight attendant treated her “as if she was stupid.”
The Israeli Action Center seeks $13,000 in compensation from El Al on behalf of Rabinowitz.
When officials from the airline heard of the lawsuit, they promised Rabinowitz a $200 discount for her next flight.
The airline released a statement in response to the lawsuit, saying its flight 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.”