Charlene Carter of Colorado may soon resume the job she loves after a Texas judge ordered her to be reinstated at Southwest Airlines on December 5, 2002. Carter had been dismissed from her job for criticizing the pro-abortion stances of her union and union leadership, according to U.S. District Judge Brantley Starr, in a highly critical ruling.
Carter suffered trauma from an abortion as a teenager and has been an outspoken opponent of the procedure. In 2017, she became critical of her union president, Audrey Stone, who had attended the national Womens’ March in Washington, D.C., and supported abortion in her official capacity. Carter contacted Stone via Facebook and publicly revealed the union’s activities in favor of the Women’s March.
In her messages to Stone, Carter stated, “This is what you supported during your paid leave with others at the Women’s March in D.C.,” and “… You truly are despicable in so many ways.”
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Southwest officials soon met with Carter and she was fired. With the help of the National Right to Work Foundation, Carter pursued her legal case against the airline and its union and was initially awarded $5.3 million by a jury. Her judgment included compensation for pain and suffering. Six months later, Judge Starr has reduced her award to $810,180 to conform to national laws limiting such payments. The airline has been directed to reinstate Carter’s employment at their company, to conspicuously post the legal documents, and to notify all employees by email of the order.
As part of the ruling, the airline and its union are also forbidden “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.”
Southwestern Airlines has stated through their spokesperson that they will appeal the ruling to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.