A Texas federal jury has awarded a former Southwest flight attendant more than $ 5 million after the airline fired her for her stance on abortion in a lawsuit dating back to 2017.
The reward in combined compensation and penalties comes after the Transportation Workers Union of America (TWU) Local 556 union and Southwest fired Charlene Carter for her religious stance on abortion, which she published on social media.
“Today is a victory for freedom of speech and religious belief. The flight attendants should have a voice and no one should be able to retaliate against a flight attendant for engaging in a protected speech against her union,”[ads1]; Carter told FOX Business in a Friday statement. “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.”
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Adam Greenfield, a lawyer at the Law Offices of Cloutman and Greenfield, PLLC, representing TWU Local 556, said that “factual evidence” in the case “indicates an outcome different from the recent jury decision, which may have misunderstood the court’s charges.
“We look forward to appeals,” Greenfield said.
Southwest and TWU Local 556 did not immediately respond to inquiries from FOX Business on Friday afternoon.
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Carter joined the union in 1996 and resigned in 2013 after realizing that her religious views did not match those of the union, but she was ordered to continue paying union dues as a condition of employment, according to a press release.
In 2017, Carter learned that the association and its president, Audrey Stone, attended the Women’s March in Washington, DC, which received some funding from Planned Parenthood. The flight attendant criticized the union’s attendance on social media.
Carter also sent messages to the union leader expressing intent to support a recall against Stone.
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Southwest executives then informed Carter that she had to attend a meeting regarding her Facebook posts, where the airline presented screenshots of Carter’s social media activity and messages regarding her life-friendly attitude and asked why she posted them.
Company representatives also told Carter that Stone claimed to have been “harassed” by Carter online, and Southwest fired her a week later, according to the lawsuit.
“No American worker should have to fear dismissal, threats or other reprisals just for speaking out against using their own money, allegedly in their name, to advance an agenda they find disgusting,” said Mark Mix, president of National Right two. Work Foundation, which offered pro-bono legal representation to Carter.
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Mix added that “even with this fundamental right” to deviate from union ideas “under the Railway Labor Act successfully defended, however, TWU union officials still enjoy the enormous state privilege of forcing airline workers to financially subsidize their activities as a condition of employment. “
“While we are proud to stand with Ms. Carter and are pleased with the ruling, there should ultimately be no place in U.S. labor law to force workers to fund a private organization that violates their core beliefs,” he continued. .