KLM discriminated against woman forced to move away from Orthodox Jew

The Air France partner company KLM has once again been faulted on the issue of women's rights.
The Air France partner company KLM has once again been faulted on the issue of women's rights. AFP/File

Dutch airline KLM discriminated against a woman by forcing her to move seats on a plane when an Orthodox Jewish man refused to sit next to her, a rights watchdog has ruled.


The case was brought by Dutch MP Ronald van Raak after the incident involving his wife on a flight from New York to Amsterdam in May 2019.

The Dutch Board for the Protection of Human Rights ruled KLM "made a gender discrimination against the couple by failing to provide a discrimination-free environment during a flight".

In a judgment on Thursday, the rights body said the couple were "confronted with an Orthodox Jewish man, who refused to sit next to the wife because of . . . his beliefs."

KLM cabin crew asked the van Raaks to "cooperate in solving this problem" in order to "make the boarding process as smooth as possible", the rights board said.

"However, the Orthodox Jewish man was not . . . asked to cooperate in solving the seating problem that arose from his position."

Call for KLM to change its procedures

Socialist MP van Raak said he was satisfied with the ruling and called on KLM to change its procedures.

"This is in the public interest that every woman should be able to count on not being discriminated against on a KLM flight," he said.

KLM, which is part of the Franco-Dutch Air France-KLM company, was not immediately available for comment.

Last year KLM was accused of "shaming women's bodies" after a breastfeeding mother was told to cover up in case other passengers were offended on a flight from San Francisco to Amsterdam.


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