Pro-life flight attendant wins case after being fired for social media comments on abortion

In what is being hailed as a “victory for freedom of speech and religious beliefs,” a Texas federal jury has awarded a former Southwest flight attendant more than $5 million after the airline fired her for criticizing the union and posting her pro-life stance on social media.

In a lawsuit that stretches back to 2017, Charlene Carter claimed Southwest and the Transportation Workers Union of America (TWU) Local 556 union fired her for posting her stance on abortion, grounded in religious beliefs, on Facebook.

“Today is a victory for freedom of speech and religious beliefs,” Carter told Fox Business in a statement on Friday. “Flight attendants should have a voice and nobody should be able to retaliate against a flight attendant for engaging in protected speech against her union.”

“I am so humbled and thankful for today’s decision,” she continued, “and for everyone who’s supported me these past five years, including the National Right to Work Foundation.”

TWU Local 556 intends to appeal the verdict, claiming the jury may have been confused.

According to the union’s attorney, Adam Greenfield of the Law Offices of Cloutman and Greenfield, PLLC, the “factual evidence” in Carter’s case “indicates an outcome different from the recent decision of the jury, which may have misunderstood the court’s charge.”

“We look forward to appellate review,” he said.

A member of TWU Local 556, Carter resigned in 2013, when she realized her religious convictions were not compatible with those of the union. Even after parting ways with TWU, as a condition of her employment with Southwest, she was forced to continue paying dues.

When she learned in 2017 that the union and its president, Audrey Stone, went to Washington D.C. for the Women’s March — an event partially funded by Planned Parenthood — Carter took to Facebook and criticized the union for its attendance.

In addition, Carter sent messages to the union leader, informing the union head of her intention to support an effort to recall Stone.

In an Orwellian move, Southwest managers responded by requiring Carter to attend a meeting to explain her social media activity and her religious beliefs. What’s more, company reps let Carter know that Stone felt “harassed” by Carter online.

One week later, the ensuing lawsuit contended, Southwest fired her.

“No American worker should have to fear termination, 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,” stated National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix.

The organization offered Carter legal representation, pro-bono.

While the “basic right” to disagree with the union was “successfully defended” under the Railway Labor Act, Mix warned that “TWU union officials still enjoy the enormous government-granted privilege of being able to force airline workers to financially subsidize their activities as a condition of employment.”

“While we’re proud to stand with Ms. Carter and are pleased by the verdict,” he said, “there ultimately should be no place in American labor law for compelling workers to fund a private organization that violates their core beliefs.”

Editor’s Note: Article was modified to reflect correct date of Carter’s resignation from TWU Local 556.


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