A Michigan Orthodox Jewish couple has sued American Airlines for discrimination. Yehuda Yosef Adler and Jennie Adler have alleged in their lawsuit that American Airlines kicked them off a flight for what the AA employee said was “extremely offensive body odor.” The employee allegedly told them that he knew that “Orthodox Jews take baths once a week.”
They state in the lawsuit that they do not have offensive body odor are accusing the airline of discriminating against them because of their religion and defaming them. They allege that they experienced embarrassment and humiliation and defamation because of the incident last year which made national news headlines.
In January 2019, the couple and their 19-month-old daughter boarded an American Airlines flight from Miami to Detroit. According to the lawsuit, they were soon told by an airline agent agent that they needed to deplane because there was an emergency. Once they exited the plane, the agent told them that the pilot had required that they exit because they had “extremely offensive body odor.” According to the lawsuit, they were surprised because they had never received complaints about their body odor on flights, and had showered that morning. They claim that the agent responded by saying he knew that Orthodox Jews take baths once a week.
Despite multiple pleas to re-board, the couple said the plane took off without them, leaving them without their luggage, their child’s car seat, stroller and diapers. They were not able to get on another flight to their destination until the following day.
In the lawsuit, the couple said they were singled out because they were visibly Jewish. Mr. Adler was wearing a yarmulke, and Mrs. Adler was wearing a long skirt and a shaytel, a wig worn by some Orthodox Jewish women after marriage to cover their hair.
American Airlines says religion was not a factor and denies the incident had anything to do with the couple’s religion. “The Adler family was asked to deplane after multiple passengers and our crew members complained about Mr. Adler’s body odor,” the company said in a statement. “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 re-booked 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 Adlers’ religion.”