Major Victory – Flight Attendant Fired by Southwest Airlines for Supporting Pro-Life Beliefs Awarded $5.1 Million in Lawsuit

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A former flight attendant for Southwest Airlines who claimed she was dismissed by her former employer for opposing abortion and using union dues to promote abortion-related organizations has won a $5.1 million federal lawsuit.

The professing Christian Charlene Carter won her case before the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, the nonprofit National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation said on Thursday.

Carter will earn a total of $5.1 million in compensation and punitive damages from the Transportation Workers Union of America and Southwest Airlines, according to the judge's decision. The jury found that Carter's firing was illegal.

The president of the National Right to Work Foundation, Mark Mix, said in a statement that the decision "vindicates Ms. Carter's fundamental right to dissent from the causes and ideas that TWU union officials, who purport to "represent" Southwest flight attendants, support while requiring workers to fund their activities.

"No American worker should have to worry about being fired, intimidated, or subjected to any other type of retaliation just for speaking out against having their own money used to forward an agenda they find repugnant.

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In September 1996, Carter enlisted in Local 556 of the TWU of America for the first time. 2013 saw her resignation. The federal Railway Labor Act forced Carter to continue paying dues even after leaving the union. The RLA supersedes state Right to Work legislation, according to The Christian Post, and permits employers to terminate an employee for refusing to pay union dues or fees. This prevents rules from mandating employees to pay union dues as a condition of their employment.

The RLA does, however, also provide workers the option of not joining a union and gives them the right to criticize and demand a change in union leadership.

Carter sued the TWU of America and Southwest Airlines in 2017 after finding that her union dues were being used to finance abortion-related organizations, such as the "Women's March on Washington DC," an event that demanded legal abortion, and the funding of Planned Parenthood.

Carter also expressed her criticism of the use of union funds to promote the Women's March in a letter to Audrey Stone, the president of Local 556, and in a number of Facebook groups for Southwest flight attendants.

The Christian Post claims that Carter contacted Stone once again discussing her support for a National Right to Work law before being invited to a meeting with Southwest management to talk about her Facebook remarks.

Carter filed a complaint against Southwest, alleging that the company's management categorized her tweets as harassment and fired her for breaking the "Workplace Bullying and Hazing" and social media rules.

A federal court prevented Southwest and the TWU of America from seeking to dismiss Carter's complaint a number of months before the District Judge decided in her favor. Both groups argued that Carter lacked a "private right of action" and that her case only included a "minor" disagreement outside the district court's purview.

However, Mix said, "TWU union leaders still enjoy the massive government-granted privilege of being able to force airline workers to financially finance their activities as a condition of employment." This core entitlement under the Railway Labor Act was successfully protected, he said.

While we're happy with the decision and thrilled to support Ms. Carter, there should ultimately be no provision in American labor law that requires employees to support a private group that goes against their own values.

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