Court documents showed Southwest Airlines fired Carter over her social media activities, which they deemed “highly offensive.”
A 20-year-old veteran Southwest Airlines flight attendant was awarded $5.1 million Thursday, July 14, after a jury found she was fired because of her anti-life religious beliefs.
Charlene Carter spoke out against the Transportation Workers Union of America (TWU) Local 556 after the group, including its president Audrey Stone, reportedly attended the 2017 Women’s March in Washington, DC event hosted by Planned Parenthood, the largest non-profit pro-abortion organization in the country.
Who is Charlene Carter?
Charlene Carter worked for Southwest Airlines for over two decades from 1996 to 2017 as a flight attendant. She was fired from the airline in March 2017, with the company claiming she had violated its policies on bullying and social media use.
Carter reportedly sent Stone a series of Facebook messages, some of which included videos of allegedly aborted fetuses. She called the then union leader “despicable” and told her she would be voted out. “This is what you supported with others at the Women’s March in DC while you were on paid leave,” Carter wrote to Stone, as quoted by the Dallas Morning News. “You really are despicable in many ways.”
Court documents showed the airline fired Carter because of her social media activity, which it deemed “highly offensive,” and her private messages to Stone, which were “harassing” in nature.
“Today is a victory for freedom of expression and belief. Flight attendants should have a voice and no one should be able to retaliate against a flight attendant for making a protected speech against their union,” Carter told Fox Business on Friday, July 15.
“I am so humbled and grateful for today’s decision and for everyone who has supported me over the past five years, including the National Right to Work Foundation.” She also took to social media to celebrate her victory. “Thank you all for your GIVE…I GIVE JESUS all the glory for this WIN 🏆,” she wrote to her followers.
Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation, angered the union after the ruling. “No American worker should face dismissal, intimidation or other reprisals simply for speaking out against having their own money allegedly being spent on their behalf to further an agenda they find abhorrent,” said Mix, who provided free legal representation to Carter, said in a statement.
“TWU union officials still enjoy the enormous privilege granted by the government to be able to force airline workers to financially subsidize their activities as a condition of employment,” he continued. “While we are proud to stand by Ms. Carter and welcome the verdict, ultimately there should be no place in American labor law to force workers to fund a private organization that violates their core beliefs,” Mix added added.
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The verdict came Thursday after an eight-day trial before Dallas Judge Brantley Starr. On May 5, Starr ruled that Carter deserved a trial on religious prejudice charges under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act 1964, claims for retaliation under the Railroad Labor Act, and claims of breach of the duty of fair representation, according to the Daily Wire.
However, Southwest plans to appeal the verdict. In a statement on Friday, July 15, the airline said it “has a proven history of supporting the rights of our employees to speak their mind, when done in a respectful manner.” According to the Washington Post, Carter could “collect $4.15 million from Southwest and $950,000 from the union, primarily in punitive damages, if the verdict is upheld.”