Fired FA Awarded $5M over Abortion Protest Reaction


Jul 23, 2003
Go woke, go broke.... $4M from the company, and almost $1M from the TWU over their DFR failure.

DALLAS (AP) — A former Southwest Airlines flight attendant who was fired after sparring with her union president over abortion and other issues won a $5.1 million jury verdict against the airline and the union.

A jury in federal district court in Dallas handed down the verdict Thursday. If it stands, Charlene Carter could collect $4.15 million from Southwest and $950 million from Local 556 of the Transport Workers Union, mostly in punitive damages.

Southwest said Friday that it "has a demonstrated history of supporting our employees' rights to express their opinions when done in a respectful manner." It plans to appeal. A lawyer for the union said jurors might have misunderstood the judge's instructions, and it also plans to appeal.

Carter alleged she was fired in March 2017 after complaining to the union president about flight attendants going to a march in Washington, D.C., where more than 500,000 people protested President Donald Trump's positions on abortion and other issues. She believed union dues were paying for an anti-abortion protest.

Carter sent a series of Facebook messages, some containing videos of purported aborted fetuses, to Audrey Stone, who was president of the union at the time. She called Stone "despicable" and said she would be voted out of office.

According to court documents, the airline said it fired Carter because posts on her Facebook page, in which she could be identified as a Southwest employee, were "highly offensive" and that her private messages to Stone were harassing. The airline said she violated company policies on bullying and use of social media.

The jury said Southwest unlawfully discriminated against Carter because of her sincerely held religious beliefs.

Carter, a 20-year veteran of Southwest, said the union did not fairly represent her and retaliated against her for expressing her views. Her lead attorney came from the National Right To Work Committee, which campaigns against compulsory union membership.
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The case goes on. Judge just reduced the verdict amounts to $850K and ordered Carter to be reinstated.

'Bags fly free with Southwest. But free speech didn't fly at all': Judge orders Southwest Airlines to reinstate flight attendant fired for expressing pro-life views

December 07, 2022

Southwest Airlines fired former flight attendant Charlene Carter from her "dream job" for expressing pro-life views. Carter fought the airline and Transport Workers Union Local 556 for nearly six years and won in July.

The judge who ruled in her favor issued an order this week requiring the airline to reinstate Carter with full seniority and benefits.

What are the details?
In July, a federal jury agreed that Carter had been wrongfully terminated for her pro-life and religious views and awarded the former flight attendant a $5.1 million verdict — $950,000 from Local 556 of the Transport Workers Union and $4.15 million from Southwest Airlines.

The Dallas Morning News reported that U.S. District Judge Brantley Starr, nominated by former President Donald Trump in 2019, had to reduce the original amount to $810,180, including $150,000 in back pay, because federal discrimination law limits damages that companies can pay out.

According to the Chicago Tribune, the amount Carter will ultimately receive comprises $300,000 in compensatory and punitive damages from Southwest and another $300,000 for the same from the union; $150,000 in back pay; and over $60,000 in prejudgment interest.

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While noting that the jury had also awarded Carter future pay lost as a result of her discriminatory firing by Southwest, Starr wrote that "Carter would rather have her job back."

Accordingly, the "Court reinstates Carter to her former position. ... If the Court opted for front pay over reinstatement, the court would complete Southwest's unlawful scheme. Reinstatement is appropriate."

Despite having had to significantly cut down Carter's compensation, Starr nevertheless enjoined the defendants "from discriminating against Southwest flight attendants for their religious practices and beliefs, including — but not limited to — those expressed on social media and those concerning abortion."

Extra to restoring Carter's job, Starr required both the airline and the union to electronically share the court's decision with all union members and to post the documents in conspicuous places for two months.

Accordingly, Southwest will have to remind its employees that the company is not allowed to discriminate against them for expressing their opinions about abortion online.

The judge also wrote that the airline's lawyers "continue to hunt for 'controversial' social-media posts from Carter instead of pondering their own mistakes and planning a future life free of them," despite having been found by a jury to be "grossly intolerant of their flight attendants' speech in violation of federal law."

"Bags fly free with Southwest. But free speech didn’t fly at all with Southwest in this case," wrote Starr.

Southwest's pro-abortion baggage

Carter complained in 2017 to then-union president Audrey Stone that union members used union funds to travel to Washington, D.C., for the purposes of protesting former President Donald Trump's pro-life views. The protest was reportedly also sponsored by abortion activist groups such as Planned Parenthood.

Despite having terminated her membership with the union years earlier, under the conditions of her employment, Carter was still required to pay union fees — fees that subsidized the pro-abortion protest in Washington.

According to Life News, Carter had spent much of her adult life struggling with depression and regret over having let Planned Parenthood kill her unborn baby.

Made financially complicit in speech and actions she had long grown to detest, Carter spoke out.

While some union members went to express their disdain for Trump's opposition to the killing of the unborn, Carter took to social media to criticize both the pro-abortion march and Stone, calling the latter "despicable."

Carter was brought in by Southwest representatives one week later and asked to explain herself and her Facebook posts. The explanations, though honest, were apparently not what the company wanted to hear.

After working for the airline for 20 years, Carter was fired on March 16, 2017, for allegedly violating the company's harassment policy.

Upon Carter's victory over the airline in July, National Right to Work — the organization that provided Carter with free legal representation — stated, "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," the organization added.

Southwest Airlines spokesman Brandy King indicated that the airline intends to appeal the verdict to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

With the reduced award, I'd think Southwest would be better off just settling on this one. The legal fees of appealing this will only increase, and the Fifth has been labeled by liberals as "the most extreme Conservative court" in the U.S.
I saw the 5.1 as an overreaction, but lowered all the way down to around 800K? Hmmm, why so low is my question. She is missing out on 6 years of back pay, 6 years of 401K, 6 years of stock purchases at a discount, 6 years of interest and growth for not having said 6 years of added $$$ growing in account, as well as other missing $$$ for the mistakes made by these two entities. I would think a more like 1-2 million just because two entities bullied an employee for doing what she had the right to do, period. I smell an appeal of the amounts awarded are in order. Especially since the group representing is doing so at no cost. Pretty sure the co. and union will relook at a very, very costly appeals case still going in her favor and costing her nothing at all, she has nothing to lose to appeal IMO.
Am I thinking wrong here?