A former Delta flight attendant claims Delta, without offering a proper explanation, forced religious Jewish customers to stow their religious items in checked-in luggage, refusing to allow them to be taken on board for prayer.
By Amir Bogen
Delta Airlines, the world’s second largest carrier, is facing a discrimination suit by four of its flight attendants who accuse the company of discriminatory policies towards Jews.
According to plaintiff Cynthia Fukelman who was fired after a decade of service, “Delta Airlines forced religious passengers to check their hats, Teffilin, Talit and other religious garment in the plane’s undercarriage, and did not allow them to carry them aboard the plane so that they could pray. Sometimes, religious passengers were even denied boarding because they refused to do so.”
The suit, filed by Philadelphia attorney Brian Mildenberg, alleges that Delta discriminated against Jewish passengers and crew on flights to Israel “based on their ethnicity alone.”
Another plaintiff, Tsipora Kuba, an Israeli residing in NY who has worked at the airline for 21 years, claimed her promotion was blocked because of her background.
A third plaintiff, Young Sook Sanchez, worked at Delta for more than 30 years and was fired for giving a flight voucher to her Israeli friend and the fourth, Anthony Panza, also an airline veteran, claims that managers harassed him because he sided with his Jewish co-workers.
Airline workers often receive flight vouchers that they can share with friends and family. The plaintiffs claim that the airline tried to prevent vouchers being given to Israelis or Jews.”Delta only looked into incidents that involved Jewish or Israeli passengers flying to Tel Aviv,” says Fukelman. “The airline did not want Israeli crew members to share their vouchers.”
The claims relate to paying passengers as well. The airline allegedly posts extra overseeing staff during briefings before flights to Israel as well as during boarding and disembarking.
Delta profiled Israeli, Jewish passengers
Fukelman says that the airline would “Profile passengers,” and that they “wrongly considered Israeli and Jewish passengers as especially problematic, loud and difficult to service.” Flight attendants were also constantly at risk of being accused of “collaborating with the enemy,” i.e. the passengers. Instead of working with the crew, she says, the airline viewed them “as part of the problem.”
As opposed to her co-plaintiffs, Fukelman was fired by Delta. The airline claims that she missed a flight she was supposed to be working on but Fukelman claims that there were medical reasons and the airline fired her because of her race and connection to Israel. Currently, she works at a school and hopes to return to her old job.Adv. Mildenberg who specializes in aviation litigation commented to Ynet that despite the fact that the above mentioned incidents are personal, the plaintiffs insist on outing Delta for the sake of all Jewish passengers and crew members.
“My clients are calling on Delta to do the right thing and cease its discriminatory policies against Jewish and Israelis on flights to Israel,” he said.
A Delta spokesman said in response: “The company strongly rejects the charges of discrimination outlined in the lawsuit and will defend itself against them. As an international airline which connects people all over the world, Delta appreciates diversity in all its forms and has zero tolerance for discrimination.”
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