Southwest Airlines wants a new trial after a federal judge determined that the company discriminated against one of its flight attendants because of her pro-life Christian beliefs.
The Epoch Times reports the company requested a new trial in paperwork filed Jan. 2, claiming the federal judge and jury made mistakes when they ruled in favor of Charlene Carter last summer.
Carter 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. The company also is required to give Carter back her job.
This week, however, The Epoch Times learned that the company is not giving up the legal battle.
“It’s kind of interesting that Southwest Airlines wants to go ahead and bring this up again … they’ve had a pretty bad ‘media month,’ if you ask me,” said Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation, whose lawyers represent Carter.
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Mix said he believes the airline attorneys made the request for a new trial because they want more time to file an appeal.
Attorneys for Southwest argued in the filing that the company did not discriminate against Carter, and the ruling should be thrown out for “unfair management of the trial and other legal errors,” according to the report. The attorneys did not return a request for comment from the Epoch Times.
Meanwhile, Carter’s attorneys at the National Right to Work Foundation recently filed their own motion, accusing the airline of sending a “misleading” notice about the case to its 17,000 flight attendants. In the notice, they said the company wrongly claimed that it “does not discriminate” against its employees, even though the judge found otherwise.
“First, Southwest Airlines violated Charlene Carter’s rights by firing her at the union’s behest. Now, the airline is doubling down by misleading other workers about its wrongdoing in defiance of a federal court order,” Mix said in a statement. “Foundation attorneys will continue to defend Ms. Carter’s rights, and will ensure that Southwest’s attempts to dodge the requirements of the decision in her favor will not go unopposed.”
Responding, attorneys for Southwest said the wording of the notice was correct, and the company has a First Amendment right to free speech, according to the report.
Carter’s case drew national publicity last summer and caught the attention of many other Southwest employees. According to the report, several recently shared similar concerns about the company discriminating against staff with conservative views.
Here’s more from the report:
Some now see Carter’s case as a cause celebre. Supporters see her as a standard-bearer for free speech rights that seem to be under constant attack.
They say co-workers have been investigated for even accidentally using “wrong pronouns” for transgender people.
Multiple sources said that the airline is even cracking down on employees for years-old social media posts on topics completely unrelated to the airline business.
Carter’s troubles began in 2013 when she decided to quit the union because of its support for pro-abortion political causes, according to the lawsuit. However, her lawyers said she was forced to continue paying union dues to keep her job at Southwest as a flight attendant.
Over the next few years, Carter said she began to speak out against the union’s politics, including its support for the pro-abortion Women’s March.
“I had a really hard time knowing that they went and spent our money … and when we voiced our opinion about it, we were chastised about it,” Carter said. “And for me, I was fired for it.”
Carter was fired in 2017 shortly after sending an email with her objections to TWU Local 556 Executive Board president Audrey Stone, according to the lawsuit.
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. Years ago, she said she promised God that she would speak out for life after finding forgiveness and healing from her own abortion.