Ex-flight attendant suing airline, union for religious discrimination

Here’s another example of flipping the script. Normally when a terminated employee files a lawsuit we learn that they are claiming discrimination on the basis of being a minority in some fashion. But a flight attendant with Southwest Airlines is suing her former employer and the Transportation Workers Union (TWU) local because she claims she was fired over her Christian beliefs and the fact that she spoke out against inappropriate use of union dues money.

Charlene Carter was terminated in March, allegedly because she made a number of Facebook posts opposing abortion and sent messages to the president of the TWU local. Her messages included complaints that dues money had been used to fly union representatives to Washington for the Women’s March early this year. (Free Beacon)

Charlene Carter of Aurora, Colo., filed suit against the company and union in a Texas federal court. She said her employment was terminated after she expressed her religious beliefs regarding abortion in Facebook posts and messages to union president Audrey Stone.

The suit alleges that Stone and the company’s actions represented retaliation over her bid to stop paying “compelled fees for its political, ideological, and other nonbargaining spending, and to engage in other speech and activity in opposition to Local 556.” Carter criticized the union for using employee dues to fly two dozen officials and flight attendants to attend January’s Women’s March protest.

She sent messages to Stone objecting to the use of union resources to participate in the march and included a link to a video depicting an abortion, as well as articles about the participation of a convicted terrorist in the March. She repeatedly said “Recall is going to happen,” referring to a decertification campaign Carter supported and later sent an email in support of national right-to-work legislation.

So rather than just some random screeds on social media, it seems that Carter was sending specific allegations of what she clearly felt were inappropriate handling of union funds to the local’s president. She referenced certain “LM2 Financials” in her posts, questioning how the money spent sending union reps and attendants to Washington for the march would be accounted for in the books. Carter also took part in an effort to recall local President Audrey Stone.

Sometimes these cases can be hard to prove when you’re claiming wrongful termination, but Carter’s employer specifically cited her pro-life messages as being, “highly offensive in nature.” They also referenced her messages directed to Stone, describing them as, “harassing and inappropriate.” Stone may have felt harassed, but when the complaints are directly related to your handling of union funds that sounds like the sort of complaint you’re supposed to take seriously, investigate and respond to. It’s also a hot topic right now because the Supreme Court is preparing to hear some cases involving the mandatory collection of union dues and the politically slanted uses those funds are put toward regardless of the opinions of the members.

Had the employer simply fired Carter for some other drummed up charge or claimed that they were cutting back due to a smaller number of flights, she likely wouldn’t have stood much of a chance. But since they made a point of referencing the Facebook posts and the recall effort, they may have painted themselves into a corner.

Also bolstering Carter’s complaint is her claim that thirteen other employees who had supported the recall effort were either terminated, suspended or subjected to other forms of disciplinary action. If a court can verify that claim then we may be seeing a pattern which could give Carter a leg up in the case. But the most unusual aspect of this case for me remains the fact that someone might actually be able to claim discrimination based on her Christian beliefs. It’s another case of Backwards Day in America, and perhaps long overdue.