Daily Israel Report

Woman Forced to Sit in Back of Plane Sues El Al

A woman is suing El Al for gender discrimination after she was forced to switch her seat in order to accommodate an ultra- Orthodox man.
By Rachel Hirshfeld
First Publish: 8/13/2012, 11:21 AM

El Al plane
El Al plane
Israel news photo: Flash 90

A Jewish American woman from Florida is suing El Al for gender discrimination after she was forced to switch her seat on a flight from the United States in order to accommodate a hareidi religious man.

Debra Ryder, who initially requested an isle seat for medical reasons, is claiming that the flight steward moved her to a seat in the back of the plane, which was consequently unable to meet her needs.

Ryder is seeking compensation in the amount of 50,000 shekels, about $12,500, for emotional distress and gender discrimination.

"In his quiet way, the flight steward hinted that they were religious, that they saw me, and that they were not prepared to get up from their seats," Ryder told Army Radio. "It was clear that the flight steward did not know how to deal with the situation. They didn’t even ask me and I was humiliated. If they had asked, it would have felt different. I never thought I'd have such an experience."

Ryder's attorney, Adv. Orly Erez-Likhovsky of the Israel Religious Action Center, sent a letter to El Al demanding that it set clear guidelines for employees on how to act under such circumstances, Globes reported.

The airline issued a response saying, "El Al flight attendants, who are in the front line of service with passengers, are faced with varied requests, and try to help as much as they can. The passenger's complaint will be examined and dealt with accordingly."