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Orthodox Jew Sues JetBlue After Being Forced to Sit Next to a Woman

March 28th, 2024

An Orthodox Jew Is suing JetBlue after the airline kicked him off the plane for refusing to sit next to a woman.

Different religions have different views about women, and this often proves to be one of the most controversial subjects in American society. While some religions view women in virtually the same way as men, others view each gender in a much more distinct light. There may be specific rules regarding women that do not apply to men, and vice versa. What happens if these religious views conflict with the necessities of everyday life? A recent lawsuit involving an airplane and an Orthodox Jew highlights how challenging these cultural differences can be. 

Orthodox Jew Allegedly Prevented From Changing Seats

On March 12, 2024, Yahoo Finance reported that an Orthodox Jew was suing JetBlue for religious discrimination. He claimed that the airline forcibly ejected him from an airplane after he attempted to (literally) stand up for his religious freedoms. The incident for the Orthodox Jew began with a redeye flight from Palm Springs to John F. Kennedy International Airport in December of 2023. The man and his wife did not book specific seats ahead of time – which meant that they were assigned seats randomly. 

Orthodox Jews are not allowed to sit next to women unless they are related to them by blood. The only exception is if the man and woman are married. However, there is some debate on whether this actually applies to situations like plane seating. Some only avoid sitting next to women during prayer. The general logic is that a woman might distract a man from his duty to God. Some ultra-Orthodox Jews have no issue sitting next to women in planes, while others refuse to. 

The Situation On This Particular Flight

Regardless of what you believe, this particular Orthodox Jew refused to sit down in a seat next to a woman. He and his wife claim that they requested a seat change and explained their religious limitations, but JetBlue refused them. An impasse was reached, and eventually, JetBlue staff decided to eject the man from the airplane. According to the lawsuit, a flight attendant became verbally abusive toward the Jewish man. The lawsuit also claims that the plaintiff had already agreed to switch seats with another passenger – and that the situation would have been resolved normally. 

Eventually, the pilot instructed the man and his wife to exit the plane. They were not given their suitcase, and they had to pay additional sums for accommodation and food until a new flight the next day, according to the lawsuit. 

JetBlue eventually released a statement on the incident – although they did not comment on the specifics of the litigation:

“JetBlue is proud to serve millions of customers each year from many different backgrounds. We do our best to accommodate our customers’ various requests while ensuring all customers are provided the experience they are expecting from JetBlue.”

These kinds of lawsuits are surprisingly common in the United States. A quick Google search will tell you that numerous Orthodox Jews have sued airlines under similar circumstances in the past with varying degrees of success. 

Keep Informed with the Universal Life Church

Each month, various cases test the nature of religious rights in this country. While the basis for many religious rights is the United States Constitution, there are still countless cases that question the exact nature of these rights. The Universal Life Church’s blog is focused on documenting the most noteworthy of these cases in an objective manner that can be easily understood by readers.

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