A federal court has ordered Southwest Airlines to give a flight attendant her job back after she was fired because she didn’t want to pay union dues that went to fund political causes she didn’t agree with.
The National Right to Work Legal Foundation announced that the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas decided that Southwest Airlines must rehire Charlene Carter, the flight attendant who was fired in March 2017.
“Bags fly free with Southwest. But free speech didn’t fly at all with Southwest in this case,” the National Right to Work Legal Foundation said in a statement about the decision.
“The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas this week ordered Southwest and the union to give Carter the maximum amount of compensatory and punitive damages permitted under federal law, plus back-pay, and other forms of relief that a jury originally awarded following Carter’s victory in a July trial,” the advocacy group added, according to The Christian Post.
This summer, Carter was previously awarded $5.1 million in damages after a court found that the airline and the chapter of the Transportation Workers Union of America she belonged to unlawfully terminated her because she objected to using union dues to pay to transport union officials to the Women’s March.
Carter, who says she is a Christian, did not approve of the union dues to fund the Washington, D.C. march in January 2017.
The march was sponsored by Planned Parenthood.
In a series of social media posts, Carter wrote that she objected to using the union dues to send union officials to the march. She then sent an email to Union President Audrey Stone saying she supported a national Right to Work bill. Later, Carter was asked to a meeting to discuss “Facebook posts they had seen.”
Southwest Airlines officials said her pro-life posts were “harassment,” and a week after the meeting, she was fired.
Carter had been part of the Transport Union Workers of America’s Local 556 union since 1996, but she resigned her membership in 2013 because of her Christian beliefs. She still had to pay union dues because of her position as a flight attendant, which required the dues as part of the federal Railway Labor Act.
“Southwest and TWU union officials made Ms. Carter pay an unconscionable price because she decided to speak out against the political activities of union officials in accordance with her deeply held religious beliefs,” National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation President Mark Mix said. “This decision vindicates Ms. Carter’s rights – but it’s also a stark reminder of the retribution that union officials will mete out against employees who refuse to toe the union line,” he said.
Photo courtesy: ©Samantha Gades/Unsplash
Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.