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EasyJet faces lawsuit after asking woman not to sit next to Orthodox Jews

EasyJet plane, 15 April 2016
EasyJet plane, 15 April 2016

EasyJet is facing a lawsuit filed by a British-Israeli woman after she was asked on two separate flights to move seats because of her gender, the Guardian reports.

Melanie Wolfson, 38, was asked by in-flight crew to move seats after strictly-Orthodox Jewish men refused to be seated next to a female passenger.

Wolfson, according to the Guardian, is asking easyJet to bar cabin crew from asking passengers to move seats on account of their gender and seeking 66,438 shekels (nearly $20,000) in compensation for the two incidents.

According to a report by HaaretzWolfson paid extra to secure an aisle seat on the first flight from Tel Aviv to London in October.

When she arrived, however, two Orthodox men were already seated in the row and one immediately started asking other male passengers if they would be willing to swap seats with Wolfson.

Minutes later, Wolfson was asked by the seated man to swap seats with a man a few rows in front of her. Initially, the 38-year-old refused, but later acquiesced to the request after a steward offered a free hot drink as an incentive to move.

Wolfson told Haaretz she was also concerned the flight could be delayed on her account. A month after the flight, Wolfson lodged a complaint with easyJet.

READ: US official takes first ever direct flight from Israel to Sudan

Two months after the initial flight, Wolfson flew again with easyJet from Tel Aviv to London. The complaint, lodged weeks before the second flight, had not been answered.

On the second flight Wolfson was also asked to move seats by two Orthodox Jews and again, refused. Two female passengers eventually offered to swap seats with the men. Again, Wolfson was offered a free hot drink as compensation.

The lawsuit claims easyJet violated Israeli laws which bans discrimination against customers because of their race, religion, nationality, land of origin, gender, sexual orientation, political views or personal status.

Though easyJet is not an Israeli airline, the Israel Religious Action Centre (IRAC), who have filed the lawsuit on Wolfson's behalf, intend to argue the plane was subject to local laws while on the ground at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion airport.

The IRAC won a similar case in 2017 over a dispute with El Al, Israel's national carrier.

similar case accusing Kuwait Airways of discrimination after the carrier cancelled a reservation made by an Israeli citizen to fly into the Gulf State was settled in late June.

A Munich-based court ruled the airline's decision was legal because travellers are not able to enter Kuwait on an Israeli passport, even if they are transiting the country.

READ: UAE and Israel working on direct flights over Saudi Arabia

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