A former Southwest Airlines flight attendant won a $5.1 million lawsuit this week against the airline and her worker’s union for discriminataion against her for her religiously-based beliefs about abortion rights.
Charlene Carter, who worked as a flight attendant for Southwest for twenty years before she was terminated. In the lawsuit, Carter alleged the company fired her for her religious beliefs about abortion rights.
Carter had reportedly clashed with company executives and union leadership several times prior to her termination over political and other issues. Carter allegedly believed at the time that union dues had funded travel to the protest.
When several flight attendants and members of her local union went to Washington, DC to protest the Trump administration’s abortion beliefs, Carter acted out by sending angry private Facebook messages and even a video of what Carter said was an aborted fetus to then-union president Audrey Stone.
Court documents say Carter was fired because posts on her Facebook page went against company social media policy, and her messages to stone were “harassing” and violated company policy on bullying.
The jury in the trial this week awarded Carter $5.1 million, largely in punitive damages, saying Southwest fired Carter over her religious beliefs. Southwest has responded to the verdict in a public statement, saying the company “has a demonstrated history of supporting our employees’ rights to express their opinions when done in a respectful manner.”
The airline plans to appeal its part of the verdict. Local 556 of the Transport Workers Union may also appeal.
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