Judge Orders Southwest Airlines to Reinstate Flight Attendant Fired Because She’s Pro-Life

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 7, 2022   |   10:01AM   |   Washington, DC

A judge has ordered Southwest Airlines to reinstate a flight attendant who was fired because she’s pro-life.

Flight attendant Charlene Carter, 56, of Aurora, Colorado, worked as a flight attendant at Southwest for nearly 21 years. In 2017, she was fired after sharing her pro-life beliefs on Facebook and speaking out against the Transportation Workers Union of America (TWU) Local 556 spending members’ dues on pro-abortion activities.

In July, a federal district court in Dallas, Texas awarded her $5.1 million, but she pressed on with her legal battle because of her love for her job and the customers she serves and carter hoped to get her job back. A judge has ruled that will now happen.

“I want to go back, hold my head up high and say, ‘You can’t do this anymore,’” she told the Epoch Times. “I’d like to see us bring back what the original Southwest was, or at least some form of that.”

Carter got her wish. On Tuesday, a federal judge ruled in her favor on returning to work but also reduced the amount of damages because an initial jury award because they exceeded certain caps.

Southwest was initially ordered to pay Carter $4.15 million in back pay and compensation for pain and suffering, while the Transport Workers Union was landed with a $1.15 million bill in compensation for Carter.

But on Tuesday, a federal judge limited the total payout to $810,180, which includes $300,000 each from Southwest and the union in compensation, $150,000 in back pay, and $60,180 in prejudgment interest.

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Southwest has also been ordered to rehire Carter with full seniority and benefits. Lawyers acting for Southwest unsuccessfully argued that Carter shouldn’t be reinstated because she had been volunteering at non-profit entities after her dismissal.

In addition, Southwest must send a copy of the jury’s verdict and judgement to all its flight attendants and post the documents on internal bulletin boards for at least 60 days.

The airline will also inform flight attendants that it is not allowed to discriminate against them for expressing their opinion about abortion on social media.

“Bags fly free with Southwest. But free speech didn’t fly at all with Southwest in this case,” district judge Brantley Starr ruled on Tuesday.

“The jury found the Defendants (Southwest Airlines) were grossly intolerant of their flight attendants’ speech in violation of federal law. And, even now, their lawyers continue to hunt for ‘controversial’ social-media posts from Carter instead of pondering their own mistakes and planning a future life free of them,” the judgment continued.

Carter said being a flight attendant with Southwest was her “dream job,” and, until union disputes arose during the last few years of her employment, she thoroughly enjoyed what she did.

Being quiet about her pro-life views is not something she is willing to do, however. Years ago, she said she promised God that she would speak out for life after finding forgiveness and healing from her own abortion.

She told the Epoch Times that she experienced an unplanned pregnancy when she was a 19-year-old college student. Carter said her boyfriend wanted the abortion, and she was worried about how she would pay to raise a child.

Still, Carter did not know if she really wanted to go through with it. At the Planned Parenthood, she asked about her unborn baby’s development, and they lied to her, according to the report.

“At this point in your pregnancy (about 10 to 12 weeks), it’s just a clump of cells … you have nothing to worry about … it’s just basically this round blob of stuff,” she remembered the abortion worker saying.

Horrifically, Carter said she realized she had been lied to when, in the middle of the abortion, she turned and saw parts of her aborted baby that had just been suctioned out of her. The sight made her sick.

“I was sick from the anesthesia, and sick from what I just did,” she remembered. Later, she said she learned: “Its heart was already beating … its fingerprints were already developed, specific to that child; eye color had already been decided. It’s an amazing creation that God has made…each one is so different, so intricately made.”

For many years, Carter struggled with depression and believed God was punishing her for what she had done to her baby, she said. Then, at a church event in 2007, she said she found forgiveness and healing in Christ, and promised God that she would speak out against abortion.

So, in 2017, she criticized her employer labor union for supporting pro-abortion politics.

Here’s more from the report:

On Feb. 7, 2017, in response to union activities that she viewed as pro-abortion, Carter posted a video of an aborted fetus on her Facebook page, along with these words: “WARNING, this is VERY GRAPHIC!! I want my tax dollars to STOP funding this….PERIOD!!!! This is MURDER.”

… Officials said this constituted a violation of the company’s social media policy; that was one reason they cited for firing Carter.

In contrast, the company took no action when its name appeared on a banner that Local 556 members carried during the Women’s March; pictures of that banner and the marchers from Local 556 showed up on social media, too, according to court records.

Now, some of her former co-workers are coming to her defense. One told the Epoch Times that people misjudged Carter and misunderstood the lawsuit, but now many are reading the trial transcripts and discovering the truth.

“And they see this is much bigger than her, and that she’s not just some crazy right-wing, pro-life nut,” the employee said. “This is about freedom of speech for all of us, freedom to oppose the union, and to stand up for what you believe in.”

Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation, which represents Carter, said they have been fighting for her rights in court for five years.

After the $5 million verdict in July, Mix said: “This long overdue verdict vindicates Ms. Carter’s fundamental right to dissent from the causes and ideas that TWU union officials – who claim to ‘represent’ Southwest flight attendants – support while forcing workers to bankroll their activities. No American worker should have to fear termination, intimidation, or any other reprisal merely for speaking out against having their own money spent, purportedly in their name, to promote an agenda they find abhorrent.”