We have already discussed the practice of some airlines of asking women to take in ultra-Orthodox Jewish men who refuse to sit next to women. Now Melanie Wolfson, 38, is suing a British-Israeli woman with EasyJet after she was asked to move seats on a flight from Tel Aviv to London.
Wolfson seeks compensation of 66,438 shekels in a lawsuit filed by the Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC). She wants the airline to block future requests or requests from women to move. She noted that an aisle seat was paid for on her flight last October, but an ultra-Orthodox man and his son were sitting in line when she arrived. According to Haaretz, she claims the request was offensive and humiliating.
What's interesting about the lawsuit is that Wolfson was not asked to move, was given the incentive for a free hot drink, and eventually agreed to move. However, two months later she was asked again to move for the same reason. She then refused, but two other female passengers agreed to move.
I'm still not sure how a query can be the basis of a legal claim. However, I do not believe that this is an adequate basis for the flight crew to encourage women to move. We have discussed cases where women feel tremendous pressure to move because these men refuse to take their seats. The delay in the flights increases the tension and embarrassment for these women. In my opinion, the men should be asked to disembark if they delay the flight. If you want to make sure there are no women sitting next to you, you can pay extra to have the entire row.
The question is whether the airline should face legal sanctions or public pressure. The only reason I am not completely ruling out such a lawsuit is because there is still the element of public embarrassment. How would you react if Easyjet asked an African American to move because someone doesn't want to sit next to someone of a different race or a Jewish person because someone is anti-Semitic? An important distinction can be made that it is an article of faith and that other religions such as Islam separate people of different sexes in different circumstances. However, these men follow religious beliefs that many women and men consider sexist and offensive. It is unreasonable, in my view, for women to be pressured to move (as a flight is delayed).