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Southwest Airlines is Back in Court Trying to Overturn Verdict That Found it Discriminated Against Anti-Abortion Activist Flight Attendant

Southwest Airlines is Back in Court Trying to Overturn Verdict That Found it Discriminated Against Anti-Abortion Activist Flight Attendant

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Southwest Airlines has been back in federal court attempting to overturn the verdict of a lower court that found the carrier had discriminated against a flight attendant with anti-abortion views.

Charlene Carter was a long-serving flight attendant at the Dallas-based carrier until she was sacked in 2017 over allegations of workplace bullying that surrounded her ‘pro-life’ abortion campaigning.

Carter took the airline and her union to court, and in 2022, a Texas jury found in her favour, concluding that Southwest had unlawfully discriminated against her and failed to accommodate her sincerely held religious beliefs.

A Pro-Trump judge initially ordered Southwest and the Transport Workers Union to pay $5.3 million in a bumper compensation payout to Carter, although this bill was subsequently downsized to $810,180 by another court.

Southwest was also ordered to rehire Carter with full seniority and benefits, tell flight attendants that it wouldn’t discriminate against them for their religious beliefs and send three of its in-house attorneys to religious freedom training.

The original judge found that Southwest broke his order by telling flight attendants that the airline ‘doesn’t’ discriminate against them rather than it ‘wouldn’t’ discriminate against them.

Carter was terminated for alleged workplace bullying and breaking the airline’s social media policy after she sent a barrage of graphic ‘pro-life’ Facebook messages to the flight attendant union’s president.

In an attempt to overturn the original verdict, Southwest has been back in court at the U.S. Court Of Appeals, Fifth Circuit, where lawyers have argued that Carter never presented sufficient evidence of belief-based discrimination and that she had misstated the law in her original lawsuit.

In a recent court filing, Southwest attorney Shay Dvoretzky told the court: “She (Carter) has nothing to suggest that Southwest fired her for any reason other than failing to comply with facially neutral policies.”

“Carter’s belief-based-discrimination verdict cannot stand because it rests on insufficient evidence”.

Carter, who was unhappy with being a part of the Southwest Airlines flight attendant union and disagreed with the union’s support for women’s abortion rights, is being assisted by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, which provides legal aid to employees who are fighting compulsory union membership.

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