Judicial

Southwest Airlines is ordered to rehire flight attendant who was fired for expressing her pro-life convictions

By Dave Andrusko

A Texas federal judge has ordered Southwest Airlines to rehire flight attendant Charlene Carter with full seniority and benefits after she was fired in 2017 for expressing her pro-life views on Facebook and speaking out against the Transportation Workers Union of America.

“In a decision filed on Dec. 5, five months after a jury decided in Carter’s favor, Judge Brantley Starr remarked, ‘Bags fly free with Southwest. But free speech didn’t fly at all with Southwest in this case,’” Janice Hisle reported.

“The jury found the Defendants [Southwest Airlines] were grossly intolerant of their flight attendants’ speech in violation of federal law,” Mateusz Maszczynski reported. “And, even now, their lawyers continue to hunt for ‘controversial’ social-media posts from Carter instead of pondering their own mistakes and planning a future life free of them” the judge said []

“The jury also awarded front [or future] pay, but Carter would rather have her job back,” Judge Brantley wrote. “The Court reinstates Carter to her former position … If the Court opted for front pay over reinstatement, the court would complete Southwest’s unlawful scheme. Reinstatement is appropriate.”

Further, “the judge explicitly ordered Southwest and Local 556 to share the jury’s verdict and Starr’s decision with all members of the union via email and to post the documents in conspicuous places for a 60-day period,” Hisle wrote.

A jury initially granted Carter, who worked as an attendant for nearly 21 years, $5.1 million dollars. Judge Starr reduced the amount “to comply with federal limits on punitive damages that companies can be required to pay,” the Associated Press reported.  “Judge Starr granted Carter $300,000 in compensatory and punitive damages from Southwest; $300,000 in compensatory and punitive damages from the flight attendants’ union, Transport Workers Union of America Local 556; $150,000 in back pay, and $60,180.82 in prejudgment interest,” Hisle reported.

Starr’s order also forbids both the company and the union “from discriminating against Southwest flight attendants for their religious practices and beliefs, including—but not limited to—those expressed on social media and those concerning abortion.”

Carter, who now lives in Colorado, “fought for five years after she was fired,” Hisle wrote. “As The Epoch Times previously reported Carter had become an outspoken opponent of abortion after she suffered physical and emotional effects from terminating a pregnancy years earlier, when she was 19.”

In 2017, Carter sent private Facebook messages to Audrey Stone, then president of Local 556, railing against the union’s participation in the national Women’s March.

It was an event sponsored, in part, by Planned Parenthood, a pro-abortion group.

Stone complained to Southwest about Carter’s messages. Soon thereafter, the airline fired Carter from the job she had held for two decades.

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