Skip to Content

Why This Airline Is Being Sued for Sexism

Israel To Sell Stake In El Al National AirlineIsrael To Sell Stake In El Al National Airline
An El Al Boeing 747 passenger jet is towed to its gate after landing at Ben Gurion Airport July 9, 2003 near Tel Aviv, Israel. Photograph by David Silverman—Getty Images

An elderly woman is suing the Israeli airline El Al for gender discrimination.

Renee Rabinowitz was asked to give up her seat on an El Al flight home to Israel at the request of an ultra-Orthodox man, who did not want to sit next to her. She’s being represented by the Israel Religious Action Center, a liberal Israeli group that has previously fought against other forms of gender segregation in the country, according to The New York Times.

Ultra-Orthodox men, who are not allowed by their religious interpretation to touch women, have disrupted several El Al flights in the past by requesting that their female neighbors change seats.

“Despite all my accomplishments — and my age is also an accomplishment — I felt minimized,” 81-year-old Rabinowitz told the Times. “For me this is not personal. It is intellectual, ideological and legal. I think to myself, here I am, an older woman, educated, I’ve been around the world, and some guy can decide that I shouldn’t sit next to him. Why?”

El Al said in a statement to the Times that “any discrimination between passengers is strictly prohibited.”