Delta Airlines sued for discriminating against Jews, Israelis

"Delta has encouraged and maintained an anti-Jewish, Hebrew and ethnic Israeli attitude among management, who... operate under an express assumption that ethnic Jews and Israelis cannot be trusted."

January 3, 2018 09:13
1 minute read.
Delta Airlines airplanes at JFK airport, NY.

Delta Airlines airplanes at JFK airport, NY.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Four former and current employees of Delta Airlines filed a lawsuit against the airline Tuesday for discriminating against Jewish employees and passengers traveling to Israel.

Each of the plaintiff flight attendants, described as veterans with experience ranging from 10 to 40 years, worked Delta's New York-Tel Aviv flight from JFK airport to Ben-Gurion airport. Two of them are ethnically "Jewish/Hebrew/Israeli" and were "disciplined or subjected to a hostile work environment" for associating with others Jews, according to a statement from the plaintiffs' attorney, Brian R. Mildenberg.

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One of the flight attendants, Cynthia Fukelman, who had worked at Delta for 21 years, alleges Delta fired her in March of 2017 because she is Jewish. Delta justified firing Fukelman by saying she had missed a flight. Fukelman admits to having missed the flight due to a medical condition, according to the lawsuit, but says Delta had granted her unpaid medical leave.

Another flight attendant, Tsipora Kuba, was denied membership to Delta's purser program after applying three times despite her "qualifications, seniority and experience," which includes experience in the IDF, prior managerial experience and the ability to speak four languages, according to the lawsuit. She claims she was discriminated against for being Israeli. Last year, Kuba witnessed the firing of seven flight attendants who were either Jewish or Israeli.

A third flight attendant, who is not Jewish, says she was suspended without pay and had her travel privileges revoked after she shared her "travel companion" pass with a Jewish friend, whom she claims to have known for over 40 years. In defense of Delta's revoking of Young Sook Sanchez's travel companion program privileges, the airline claimed Sanchez "was unable to demonstrate basic knowledge" of her travel companion, according to the lawsuit.

"Delta has encouraged and maintained an anti-Jewish, Hebrew and ethnic Israeli attitude among management, who, through words and deeds, operate under an express assumption that ethnic Jews and Israelis, as employees and passengers, cannot be trusted, are aggressive and inappropriate, and engage in what are deemed to be 'strange' behaviors by conducting prayers on the flight and requiring special dietary accommodations (kosher meals)," Mildenberg said in the statement.

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