Swedish furniture company and meatball purveyor IKEA has been hit with a gender discrimination lawsuit after distributing a female-free furniture catalog for ultra-Orthodox Israelis.
The multimillion-dollar lawsuit was filed as a class-action case at the Jerusalem District Court on Tuesday on behalf of Hannah Katsman, an Orthodox woman from the Israeli town of Petach Tikvah, and advocacy group the Israel Religious Action, according to Haaretz.
Katsman discovered the heavily edited catalog in her mailbox in 2017 and soon after enlisted the help of the advocacy center, which specializes in gender discrimination on religious grounds. The group has now launched a legal battle against the Israeli branch of Ikea, and its director Shuki Koblenz.
Court documents for the lawsuit say the “total exclusion of woman and girls.. sends a serious and difficult message that women have no value and there is something wrong with their presence, even in the family-home space depicted in the catalog.”
The suit is asking Ikea to pay compensation of 1,500 shekels ($415) each to almost 10,000 ultra-Orthodox women because the company allegedly “severely insulted, angered and traumatized” the catalog recipients. It’s also asking for a normal catalog with photos of both men and women to be distributed throughout the community.
Ikea headquarters in Sweden has apologized over the issue. This is not the first time the company has come under fire for omitting women from its publications, though. In 2012 the company issued an apology for photoshopping women out of the catalogs distributed in Saudi Arabia.
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