A Michigan couple is suing American Airlines for discrimination after being removed from a flight because the airline said the Orthodox Jewish couple smelled bad, the Detroit Free Press reported.
Yehuda Yosef (Yossie) Adler, Jennie Adler and their then-19-month old daughter were kicked off a Jan. 23, 2019, flight from Miami to Detroit by a gate agent. The agent said Orthodox Jews, only showered once a week, according to the lawsuit filed Jan. 28 in Texas, which is where the airline is headquartered.
Yossie Adler was subjected to humiliation by the airline right after he stepped on the plane, according to the suit. Adler asked a stewardess for headphones, saying he was given some on a previous flight. But the pilot, who was nearby, responded to him rudely, saying, “I wasn’t on that plane and we don’t offer anything complimentary.”
Shortly after sitting down, the gate agent told the Adlers that there was an emergency and then asked them to get off the plane, according to the lawsuit. They were told it was because of body odor and at the instruction of the pilot.
The couple contends that they had showered that morning and were being defamed by the airline.
The day of the incident, Yossie wore a yarmulke and Jennie wore a sheitel. They allege that the airline treated them differently because of their religious beliefs.
In a statement to Hamodia, American Airlines said, “The Adler family was asked to deplane after multiple passengers and our crew members complained about Mr. Adler’s body odor. The decision was made out of concern for the comfort of our other passengers. Our team members took care of the family and provided hotel accommodations and meals, and rebooked them on a flight to Detroit the next morning. None of the decisions made by our team in handling this sensitive situation were based on the Adler’s religion.”
But the Adlers say that to make matters worse, when they were removed, their luggage remained on the plane. They had to spend the night in a hotel without their luggage, which they were not able to retrieve until they had landed in Detroit the next day.
The couple is seeking punitive damages. A scheduling conference on the matter is set for May 29.