Orthodox Jewish Family Files $40 Million Lawsuit Against JetBlue, Alleging Discrimination

QUEENS, NEW YORK – A Queens couple has filed a $40 million lawsuit against JetBlue, alleging that their family was unjustly removed from a New York-bound flight because they are Orthodox Jews. Michael Nektalov, 42, and his wife Miryem Yushanayev, along with their five children, were traveling back from an Aruba vacation on February 4, 2021, when the incident occurred. According to court documents filed in Brooklyn Federal Court, the couple was dressed in accordance with their religious customs, with Miryem wearing a head covering and Michael sporting a long beard and yarmulke. They also spoke in Hebrew at times, further identifying their Jewish faith.

The trouble began when JetBlue employees allegedly gave the couple “disdainful and dirty looks,” making them feel uncomfortable. Sensing that trouble was imminent, the couple realized that they would likely face further complications. Shortly before takeoff, the plane unexpectedly returned to the gate. When Nektalov’s wife inquired about the reason, one of the flight attendants simply claimed that her mask had slipped off her nose.

Subsequently, the family accused JetBlue of falsely accusing the mother of not wearing a mask and removed her from the plane. Another Jewish family faced a similar fate. Confused and seeking answers, the families were informed that unless they all disembarked, the entire plane would have to be deplaned. The experience left Nektalov feeling as though they were being isolated and vilified, drawing a comparison to Nazi Germany.

JetBlue spokesman Derek Dombrowski stated that the company had not yet reviewed the lawsuit but emphasized that they do not tolerate any form of discrimination. He assured that JetBlue takes claims like these seriously and would thoroughly investigate the incident.

In their lawsuit, the Queens couple is seeking $40 million in damages for the alleged discrimination they faced. The incident raises concerns about religious discrimination and the potential mistreatment of passengers based on their faith. This case brings attention to the need for airlines to ensure equal treatment for all passengers, regardless of their religious background. The outcome of the lawsuit will shed light on the actions taken by JetBlue and the importance of combating discrimination in the airline industry.