Orthodox Couple Asked to Leave Plane Due to Alleged Body Odor Sues American Airlines for Discrimination

Lawsuit against airline carrier says there were no complaints from passengers and that gate agent said he 'knew that Orthodox Jews take baths once a week'

American Airlines planes at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix, July 2019.
AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin

An Orthodox Jewish couple from Detroit who were asked to exit an American Airlines plane because the pilot said they had offensive body odor have filed a federal lawsuit against the airline.

The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in district court in Houston five days after Yehuda Yosef and Jennie Adler and their 19-month-old daughter were asked to leave the plane in Miami.

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The lawsuit states that the couple, who are visibly Jewish, were racially profiled and discriminated against.

After finding their seats, the family was asked by a gate agent to leave the flight and once off the plane were told that the pilot had asked them to be taken off due to body odor.

The couple told the gate agent that there were no complaints from passengers on the plane or other flights they had taken. They also expressed surprise, saying they showered that morning, according to the complaint.

“In response, defendant’s agent made disparaging and derogatory statements telling the Adlers that he knew that Orthodox Jews take baths once a week,” the complaint states.

The Adlers approached travelers waiting at the gate and asked if they smelled unpleasant odors and were told no each time.

In addition, the flight took off with all of the family’s luggage, including a stroller and car seat.

“The Adlers were seriously inconvenienced, treated as criminals, humiliated, insulted, defamed, missed appointments, incurred incidental expenses and suffered trauma and emotional distress,” according to the lawsuit.

The airline put the family in a hotel for the night and they flew home on American the following day.

“Our Miami airport team members were concerned about the comfort of our other passengers due to the odor,” an American Airlines spokeswoman told the Miami Herald.

The lawsuit requests unspecified punitive damages and attorney’s fees.