KLM discriminated against women with requests to sit elsewhere


In May last year, KLM discriminated against an air passenger on the basis of her gender. The College of Human Rights came to that conclusion on Thursday. Cabin crew asked a woman to sit elsewhere because a Jewish Orthodox man refused to sit next to her on the plane because of his faith.

The incident concerned the partner of SP Member of Parliament Ronald van Raak. On a plane from Amsterdam to New York, a Jewish Orthodox man refused to sit next to Van Raak’s wife. KLM staff then asked the couple to take the seat elsewhere in the aircraft in order to take off as quickly as possible. In addition, the Jewish man would not have been asked to sit elsewhere. Nor was he made aware that he was discriminating with his request. Van Raak and his wife joined the College together in October 2019.

Cabin crew should have asked the Jewish man to find another place, the College said, because he made the first request. In addition, the airline has not provided ‘in-flight discrimination’ environments. The College of Human Rights is not allowed to impose penalties or sanctions and the judgment therefore has no direct consequences for KLM. The airline has not yet responded to the judgment.

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