Southwest Airlines and Local 556 of the Transport Workers Union may be required to pay over 5 million dollars to one former employee who openly discussed her pro-life beliefs.
A federal district court jury in Dallas, Texas, sided with Charlene Carter in a lawsuit she filed against her former employer and union after she was fired for expressing her pro-life views to the former union president.
Carter claimed that in 2017 she complained to then-president Audrey Stone that union funds had been used to travel to a pro-abortion protest in Washington, D.C., where pro-abortionists protested Donald Trump’s pro-life stance. The protest was sponsored by Planned Parenthood.
Carter, who is a Christian, expressed her stance publicly, sharing videos that depicted aborted babies, in a series of Facebook posts directed at Stone. She called Stone “despicable” and claimed that she would lose her job as union president soon.
A week later, Southwest representatives called her to a meeting, presented her with screenshots of her posts and asked why they were made. Carter explained her beliefs and reasoning, but Southwest decided to terminate her employment.
Despite not being a part of the union, as she had left in 2013 after discovering that the union helped fund Planned Parenthood, Carter continued to pay union fees as a condition of her employment. She argued in the suit that those funds were used to continue supporting Planned Parenthood and eventually the protest.
Carter’s legal team argued that she had been unlawfully discriminated against for her Christian and pro-life views, and the jury agreed, ruling that Southwest would have to pay her $4.15 million and her former union $950,000.
“This long overdue verdict vindicates Ms. Carter’s fundamental right to dissent from the causes and ideas that TWU union officials – who claim to ‘represent’ Southwest flight attendants – support while forcing workers to bankroll their activities. No American worker should have to fear termination, intimidation, or any other reprisal merely for speaking out against having their own money spent, purportedly in their name, to promote an agenda they find abhorrent,” said a statement issued by National Right to Work, the organization which provided Carter with free legal representation.
Southwest, however, wasn’t pleased with the result, and plans to appeal the verdict: “Southwest Airlines has a demonstrated history of supporting our Employees’ rights to express their opinions when done in a respectful manner. We are disappointed with this verdict and plan to appeal to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.”
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