by Fr. Mark Hodges
A pro-life flight attendant is suing the airline she worked for and the union she belonged to after she was fired for raising concerns about their support for abortion.
Veteran stewardess Charlene Carter of Colorado is suing Dallas-based Southwest Airlines and her local Transport Workers Union of America for religious discrimination.
She has also filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
Carter had decried on Facebook her union’s “fees for its political, ideological, and other non-bargaining spending.” She used the social media platform as well as email in February to contact union president Audrey Stone, asking her to speak out against using dues for an all-expenses-paid trip of two dozen union leaders to the January pro-abortion Women’s March in Washington, D.C.
“As a result of my Facebook posts and messages that opposed abortion, and without prior warning that such activities violated its work rules, my employer fired me on March 14, 2017,” wrote Carter in a legal statement about her case.
“Having a pro-choice position on abortion is not a requirement for performing my duties as a flight attendant,” she added.
In one email to the union boss, Carter included a link to a video showing an abortion.
“This is what you supported during your Paid Leave with others at the Women’s MARCH in DC,” she wrote. “Wonder how this will be coded” in union accounting,” she wrote.
Southwest sacked Carter in March, specifically for her criticisms. The airline argued that Carter’s posts were “highly offensive,” “harassing,” and “inappropriate.”
But Carter says her criticisms are protected speech by the Railway Labor Act (RLA). She said that if her dismisal is allowed to stand, it would stifle employees’ speech.
“Southwest violated Carter’s rights under RLA … to vigorously exercise ‘uninhibited, robust, and wide-open’ free speech related to flight attendants’ efforts to reorganize Local 556, to collectively bargain with Southwest, and to oppose the union’s leadership and spending,” the lawsuit states.
Carter noted in the lawsuit how the union never punished members who made death threats on social media. She also said that others who share views similar to her own have been disciplined by Southwest Airlines.
“Southwest has subjected approximately thirteen supporters of the recall effort to termination of employment, suspension, repeated fact-findings, and/or other disciplinary measures in the last twelve months,” the lawsuit states.
Carter is suing to get her job back and for lost pay, plus interest.
“Southwest never warned me that using Facebook to protect life was inconsistent with its work rules,” Carter’s complaint to the EEOC states. “My sincere religious beliefs require me to share with others that abortion is the taking of human life … my employer discriminated against me on the basis of my sincerely held religious belief and speech.”
National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation president Mark Mix stands behind Carter.
“Instead of respecting the rights of a worker they claimed to represent, union bosses used their monopoly over the workplace to have her fired for speaking out and questioning their forced unionism powers,” Mix said.
Commentator Mark Meckler suggested that there is a bias against pro-lifers in the workplace.
“If you are a highly paid NFL player, on the job, protesting during the national anthem? No problem. But a Southwest flight attendant who is pro-life, expresses her opinions about union support of abortion on Facebook and gets terminated,” commentator Mark Meckler wrote.
“She’s not even doing it on the job, like someone like multi-millionaire…Colin Kaepernick,” Meckler continued. “Still, he gets applauded, and she gets terminated because she’s conservative and in opposition to the leftist union that supports abortion.”
“You can be sure that if she was posting typical social justice warrior agit-prop on her web page, like rants against Trump, she’d still have her job,” he said.
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