THE HAGUE, July 24 — 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 ruled.
The case was brought by Dutch MP Ronald van Raak after the incident happened while he and his wife were travelling from New York to Amsterdam in May 2019.
The Dutch Board for 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 today, it said the couple were “confronted with an Orthodox Jewish man, who refused to sit next to the wife because of her gender 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 held accountable for his behaviour, nor was it made clear to him that there were discriminatory aspects,” it ruled.
“Also, the Orthodox Jewish man or company he was part of was not asked to cooperate in solving the seating problem that arose from his position.”
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,” ANP news agency quoted him as saying.
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 said she was told to cover up in case other passengers were offended on a flight from San Francisco to Amsterdam. — AFP