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Thu Jun 22, 2017, 10:38 AM

Israeli airline can't make women move seats for religious reasons, court rules

Flight stewards working for Israel’s national carrier El Al cannot request female passengers to move seats to accommodate ultra-orthodox men who do not want to sit next to them, a court has ruled.

The landmark case was brought by 82-year old Holocaust survivor Renee Rabinowitz, who sued the airline for discrimination after being asked to move seats to accommodate an ultra-orthodox male passenger in 2015. When she challenged the practice, she was told by staff that the policy had been approved at board level.

Describing the controversial practice as “discriminatory”, judge Dana Cohen-Lekah ruled that “under absolutely no circumstances can a crew member ask a passenger to move from their designated seat because the adjacent passenger doesn’t want to sit next to them due to their gender”.

snip

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jun/22/israeli-airline-cant-make-women-move-seats-for-religious-reasons-court-rules

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Reply Israeli airline can't make women move seats for religious reasons, court rules (Original post)
rpannier Jun 2017 OP
MineralMan Jun 2017 #1
Hortensis Jun 2017 #2
Jim Lane Jun 2017 #8
erpowers Jun 2017 #3
SharonAnn Jun 2017 #36
leftynyc Jun 2017 #4
HughBeaumont Jun 2017 #5
LanternWaste Jun 2017 #6
Jim Lane Jun 2017 #7
RainCaster Jun 2017 #11
Jim Lane Jun 2017 #12
MurrayDelph Jun 2017 #22
Doreen Jun 2017 #29
geek tragedy Jun 2017 #13
Jim Lane Jun 2017 #16
geek tragedy Jun 2017 #17
Jim Lane Jun 2017 #18
geek tragedy Jun 2017 #20
Ilsa Jun 2017 #25
Jim Lane Jun 2017 #32
suffragette Jun 2017 #14
Jim Lane Jun 2017 #15
geek tragedy Jun 2017 #21
suffragette Jun 2017 #24
Jim Lane Jun 2017 #31
suffragette Jun 2017 #35
brooklynite Jun 2017 #23
Jim Lane Jun 2017 #33
NutmegYankee Jun 2017 #27
Bayard Jun 2017 #9
obamanut2012 Jun 2017 #10
lpbk2713 Jun 2017 #19
Doreen Jun 2017 #30
Sen. Walter Sobchak Jun 2017 #37
Ilsa Jun 2017 #26
Gothmog Jun 2017 #28
crazycatlady Jun 2017 #34

Response to rpannier (Original post)

Thu Jun 22, 2017, 10:46 AM

1. Finally! This is long overdue.

It probably won't stop the ultra-orthodox male passengers from complaining and asking, but it will simplify the process of refusing their misogynistic, biased demands.

I hope this settles this stupid practice once and for all.

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Response to rpannier (Original post)

Thu Jun 22, 2017, 10:48 AM

2. Oh, good for her! It was absolutely discrimination! As a woman myself,

in most cases I'd request a move myself out of courtesy toward someone locked into unfortunate precepts, but there's every difference in the world between that and being forced to move.

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Response to Hortensis (Reply #2)

Thu Jun 22, 2017, 12:01 PM

8. Per the linked article, the woman did agree to move.

 

She then brought the court case to prevent the situation from recurring.

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Response to rpannier (Original post)

Thu Jun 22, 2017, 10:49 AM

3. Make The Ultra-Orthodox Person Book Another Flight

If it is the ultra-orthodox person who has a problem with the seating let that person change flights. Why should the person who is not complaining have to be the person who moves? If you have a problem then book a new flight and make sure you bring a same sex companion to sit next to you on the flight.

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Response to erpowers (Reply #3)

Thu Jun 22, 2017, 11:02 PM

36. Make the ultra-orthodox person pay for the seat on each side to keep it empty.

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Response to rpannier (Original post)

Thu Jun 22, 2017, 10:50 AM

4. AWESOME

 

Nobody should have to cater to any religion and their taboos. They don't want to sit next to women? Buy 2 seats.

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Response to rpannier (Original post)

Thu Jun 22, 2017, 10:51 AM

5. Good. I can't believe this was even a case.

Stop kowtowing to adherents of make-believe.

Stop allowing mythology to rule us.

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Response to HughBeaumont (Reply #5)

Thu Jun 22, 2017, 11:04 AM

6. Exactly. Nations and governments

Exactly. Nations and governments being make-believe (by its very definition) as well, and yet ruling us.

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Response to rpannier (Original post)

Thu Jun 22, 2017, 11:59 AM

7. Now here's a tougher question

 

This case was decided in Israel, but suppose an airline operating in the U.S. were to designate some rows as male-only, some as female-only, with much of the plane still "open seating". Then people who book in advance and select their seats can choose a sex-segregated row if they want, so the problem won't arise.

The idea of "separate but equal" facilities sounds objectionable to most Americans. On the other hand, accommodating different religious beliefs (in a way that doesn't force anyone to change seats) seems reasonable.

The practice is challenged in court. You're the judge. How do you rule?

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Response to Jim Lane (Reply #7)

Thu Jun 22, 2017, 01:48 PM

11. Easy answer

If you want a deterministic way to select the sex of the person sitting next to you, then you must buy seats on both sides of you. That means you cannot use SouthWest or any other airline with festival seating.

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Response to RainCaster (Reply #11)

Thu Jun 22, 2017, 01:52 PM

12. But what if the airline WANTS to use assigned seating?

 

There's certainly no requirement that an airline emulate Southwest and use festival seating. Most airlines don't.

On the ground, while you're waiting for your flight to board, the restrooms available to you are sex-segregated. Would it be (should it be) illegal for an airline that offers sex-segregated restrooms to offer some sex-segregated seating rows?

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Response to RainCaster (Reply #11)

Thu Jun 22, 2017, 03:58 PM

22. Buying a second seat does no good

when the airline still double-book the seat anyway.

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Response to MurrayDelph (Reply #22)

Thu Jun 22, 2017, 07:10 PM

29. Also buying 2 seats does not mean you will

not have to sit next to someone because those 2 seats could be seats not even close to each other. I have had friends who tried to get seats together and couldn't or found our when they got on the plane that the seats were actually separate.

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Response to Jim Lane (Reply #7)

Thu Jun 22, 2017, 01:56 PM

13. Subsitute race for gender and I think you see how easy the answer is.

 

Separate but equal is not a thing.

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Response to geek tragedy (Reply #13)

Thu Jun 22, 2017, 03:38 PM

16. You say "Separate but equal is not a thing" but what about the rest rooms?

 

As for race, I doubt that anyone could establish a genuine religious objection to sitting next to someone on that basis. (See the last paragraph of my #15.) In the actual case, I think that the views of some orthodox Jews are antiquated, unreasonable, reprehensible -- and sincere. They didn't just concoct a claim to try to get a better seat.

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Response to Jim Lane (Reply #16)

Thu Jun 22, 2017, 03:40 PM

17. Plane restrooms are unisex.

 

The nanosecond an airline refuses to sell an unsold seat to someone on the basis of sex, they've violated federal civil rights law.

Non-starter.

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Response to geek tragedy (Reply #17)

Thu Jun 22, 2017, 03:44 PM

18. And the rest rooms in the terminal are sex-segregated.

 

I pointed this out in #12.

If an airline is not permitted to offer sex-segregated seating rows, with unrestricted rows also available, is it permitted to offer sex-segregated rest rooms in the terminal, even though there is no unrestricted option available?

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Response to Jim Lane (Reply #18)

Thu Jun 22, 2017, 03:54 PM

20. Airlines may not refuse to sell an unsold seat on a plane on the basis of race, sex, etc.

 

Just like they don't have a right to ask black folks to sit in the back of the plane.

This issue was resolved decades ago.

No one's rights are violated due to the absence of sex-integrated bathrooms.







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Response to Jim Lane (Reply #18)

Thu Jun 22, 2017, 05:35 PM

25. If the guy sitting next to me is allowed to take out his johnson to

do ... whatever... then I have an issue with not segregating the seats.

Otherwise, I don't care.

I've been seated between two men, strangers, on flights. I didn't lose Jesus or my faith. The orthodox people need to get over it, or go start their own airline.

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Response to Ilsa (Reply #25)

Thu Jun 22, 2017, 07:31 PM

32. Your suggestion raises a different problem.

 

You write, "The orthodox people need to get over it, or go start their own airline."

What if they take you up on it, start their own airline, and specify that ALL rows on the plane are sex-segregated? Men on the left, women on the right (assuming the aisle is wide enough to satisfy the imaginary being who's laid down this rule). Now two non-Jewish opposite-sex friends or spouses who are traveling together can't sit together because their doing so would offend the people who own the airline. To me, that outcome seems less defensible than allowing an airline to offer a mix of sex-segregated rows and open rows.

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Response to Jim Lane (Reply #7)

Thu Jun 22, 2017, 02:06 PM

14. What other discrimination based on religion would then be allowed?

Seems like a slippery slope to me.

So, if the woman in this ad claims her view is religion based and must therefore be accommodated, would that be ok based on the precedent you are arguing for in your post?

Reasonable? No, discrimination is not reasonable.


https://m.

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Response to suffragette (Reply #14)

Thu Jun 22, 2017, 03:29 PM

15. The question is not whether the discrimination is reasonable....

 

The question is whether the accommodation is reasonable.

We have equal employment laws that prohibit sex discrimination in hiring. Nevertheless, the Catholic Church has a religious doctrine that bars women from the priesthood. The law accommodates that belief. Some Catholics favor ordination of women and there are certainly good arguments that the discrimination against women is unreasonable. Nevertheless, as long as the church persists in that position, it's not illegal.

Do you believe that the government should require the Catholic Church to ordain women?

Of course, not all forms of accommodation are reasonable. There was a devout Muslim woman who wanted her driver's license photo taken while she wore a hijab and chador. Only her eyes would have been visible. She said that her religion prohibited her from showing any more of her face, but her plea was rejected. Allowing such a photo would unreasonably impair the function of the license photo.

You can say "always accommodate" or "never accommodate" but, IMO, both of these easy, simplistic answers are wrong.

I'm not clear on your hypothetical. If the passenger claims a religious belief that requires her to sit next to a man, then she can, under the procedure I'm asking about, take a seat in one of the non-sex-segregated rows.

Another factor is that we don't want to enable people to make up phony religions just to evade laws they don't like. The Amish have a general and long-standing religious objection to paying FICA taxes, so they're exempted from Social Security. If a bunch of libertarians establish the Church of Ayn Rand and assert that they also object, they're out of luck -- they won't get the exemption. In your question, if it appears that the passenger is just making up a religion, the precedent of the Amish (and there are other such) would be a basis for rejecting the claim.

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Response to Jim Lane (Reply #15)

Thu Jun 22, 2017, 03:57 PM

21. violating someone else's rights is not a reasonable accomodation nt

 

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Response to Jim Lane (Reply #15)

Thu Jun 22, 2017, 05:29 PM

24. Yet, you raised it being "reasonable" in your previous post. That's why I used that term.

Also, the commercial is quite clear in its intent. It even has a title shown at the beginning if you find it unclear or should you choose not to get it.

Couch your examples in whatever obfuscating language and situations you like. This is still a case of clear discrimination and I'm glad the case was decided justly.

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Response to suffragette (Reply #24)

Thu Jun 22, 2017, 07:23 PM

31. You misunderstood what I wrote.

 

I wrote that the belief is unreasonable (#16). I don't believe that a belief has to be reasonable, in my eyes, to be accommodated. I think it's reasonable for the EEO law to accommodate the Catholic Church's unreasonable sexism. (That one is "a case of clear discrimination" but no one in this thread has objected to it.) I think it's reasonable for the Social Security law to accommodate the Amish people's unreasonable hostility toward insurance. What I wrote (in #7) about Orthodox Jews and their unreasonable seating preferences was that "accommodating different religious beliefs (in a way that doesn't force anyone to change seats) seems reasonable." Of course, as I pointed out in the same post, rejecting "separate but equal" also seems reasonable, which is why I called this a tougher question than the case of forcing someone to move.

I'm not following your reference to the commercial. I think it's a very well done piece of anti-racism. The difference with the real case is that, like it or not, U.S. law does recognize a special place for religious beliefs as opposed to mere personal preferences.

If you want to talk about race, consider that racial discrimination in employment was outlawed nationwide in 1964, but it wasn't until 1978 that the LDS Church abandoned its rule against the ordination of men of black African descent to the priesthood. AFAIK, during the intervening 14 years the church was allowed to continue to practice racial discrimination that would have been illegal if done by a secular employer. Was that the correct outcome? I think it was.

This same principle of accommodating religious beliefs was later employed to let Hobby Lobby shaft its women employees in health insurance because the people running the corporation voiced religious objections to the employees' exercise of their reproductive rights. That was NOT the correct outcome. I wouldn't argue against it on the overly simplistic basis that religious beliefs are never to be accommodated, though. There's usually some balancing involved. The employer's interest in controlling the employees' conduct was very weak compared with the LDS Church's interest in setting its own standards for its priesthood. That's why I would rule against the religious claim in one case and for it in the other.

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Response to Jim Lane (Reply #31)

Thu Jun 22, 2017, 10:04 PM

35. I was quite clear in my post. You are choosing to misdirect.

In the end geek tragedy put it well:
violating someone else's rights is not a reasonable accomodation

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Response to Jim Lane (Reply #7)

Thu Jun 22, 2017, 04:16 PM

23. Okay, I'll play along...

You have five "male only" seats. Four of them are purchased. All gender-neutral seats are purchased. A female wants to purchase the remaining seat. Do you sell it to her? Or do you "accommodate different religious beliefs"?

Second point. A higher proportion of the population is female. Is it discrimination to have an equal number of "male only" and female only seats" available?

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Response to brooklynite (Reply #23)

Thu Jun 22, 2017, 07:41 PM

33. Good questions.

 

Your second point is pretty easy to deal with. The proportions in the population don't matter. The number of "male only" and "female only" seats could be in proportion to the ratio among air travelers. More precisely, the question would be how many air travelers want sex-segregated seats. I'll confess to some stereotyping here: My guess is that, among Orthodox Jews who object to such scandalous "mixing" of the sexes, the women have many fewer opportunities to take positions in business or government that would involve flying. If that's so, then an airline trying to accommodate this belief would presumably have more "male only" seats.

The first question is harder. If the airline can find a man in the gender-neutral area who's willing to move, that would solve the problem. Otherwise, my inclination is to say that the woman's right to travel outweighs the men's right to travel in a particular way, because the former is more fundamental. Maybe the airline could give the men-only purchasers the option of getting a full refund or rebooking to a different flight, in either case without the fee that's normally imposed.

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Response to Jim Lane (Reply #7)

Thu Jun 22, 2017, 05:37 PM

27. If it's voluntary and limited to just a few rows for religious accommodation, I don't have an issue.

However, if people are forced to sit in those rows against their will, it's discrimination.

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Response to rpannier (Original post)

Thu Jun 22, 2017, 12:34 PM

9. There's been plenty of people I didn't want to sit next to on a plane

Including people who will not shut up and let you sleep, kids that keep kicking your seat, the guy in front of you that puts his seat all the way back into your lap, and one that kept farting. The miasma was overpowering. If they can make you change seats for religious reasons, how about because you can't breathe?

I agree, the guy with the problem should be escorted to a seat beside another man. You can always ask for a willing seat exchange.

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Response to rpannier (Original post)

Thu Jun 22, 2017, 12:34 PM

10. Now if only US airlines follow suit

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Response to rpannier (Original post)

Thu Jun 22, 2017, 03:47 PM

19. I see an opportunity for an entrepreneur here.




Buy a case of canned compressed air and relabel the cans "Cootie Spray"




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Response to lpbk2713 (Reply #19)

Thu Jun 22, 2017, 07:19 PM

30. Stop! quit! stop!

I am laughing my ass off and can't quit.

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Response to lpbk2713 (Reply #19)

Thu Jun 22, 2017, 11:14 PM

37. I'm thinking another industry...

 

One that caters exclusively to all-male travel groups. (insert C+C Music Factory sample here)

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Response to rpannier (Original post)

Thu Jun 22, 2017, 05:37 PM

26. Anyone flying on a public airline needs to get over it.

Go charter a flight if you don't like the rules.

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Response to rpannier (Original post)

Thu Jun 22, 2017, 06:48 PM

28. K&R

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Response to rpannier (Original post)

Thu Jun 22, 2017, 08:07 PM

34. Simple solution

Airline seat rows are typically 2-3 seats (not counting aisles). Most airline websites tell you the type of aircraft the flight is taking and allow you to choose your seat.

If you're so concerned that women have cooties, book the whole row.

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