Fired Southwest Flight Attendant Wins $5.1 Million For Being Anti-Abortion A-Hole On Facebook

Culture Wars
Fired Southwest Flight Attendant Wins $5.1 Million For Being Anti-Abortion A-Hole On Facebook

Everything’s coming up roses lately for forced birthers. The Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, creating life-affirrming chaos for anyone with a uterus, even 10-year-olds. And now a former Southwest Airlines flight attendant just won a $5.1 million jury verdict against the airline and her union after she claims she was fired because of her forced-birth positions.

This goes back to March, 2017, when Charlene Carter complained to her union president, Audrey Stone, about how other employees, who were not her, freely attended the Women’s March. Carter, who hated the union almost as much as she hated reproductive freedom, assumed the union was funding an abortion rights protest. Stone herself had personally attended the march.

Carter proceeded to stalk Stone on Facebook. According to a 2019 case opinion, she sent Stone a video of an aborted fetus with the following message: "This is what you supported during your Paid Leave with others at the Women’s MARCH in DC….You truly are Despicable in so many ways.”

From the Dallas Observer:

Carter then sent another video of a fetus and message about an hour later, then yet another message with an article claiming a terrorist had played a role in the march. Later that day, she sent yet another message with an article on Planned Parenthood and abortion.

Carter sent multiple messages to Stone, calling her a sheep in wolves clothing, saying she was uneducated and threatening a recall. “YOU all DISGUST ME!!!!!,” Carter wrote in one email to Stone. “OH and by the WAY I and so many other of our [flight attendants] VOTED FOR TRUMP….so shove that in your Propaganda MACHINE!”

Stone reported the messages and emails to Southwest, who fired Carter for violating company policies on bullying and use of social media. This is normally what happens to unhinged assholes in the workplace, but we guess Carter considers herself an unhinged asshole for Jesus. She insists she was fired because she expressed her sincerely held religious beliefs, and a federal jury in Dallas actually agreed with her bullshit.

Employees have the right to complain to their superiors without fear of retaliation, but they don’t have the right to do so in a disrespectful and harassing manner. Insulting your superiors is a quick route to the unemployment line. Sending Chick tract-style videos to someone’s personal Facebook isn’t religious expression. It’s just gross. Presumably, an employee burning a cross on their coworker’s lawn isn’t protected speech. Although, who knows anymore with our current Supreme Court?

The twisted irony here is that Texas is one of 27 states with Right to Work laws designed to diminish the bargaining power of unions. Airline and railway workers are covered under the Railway Labor Act, which has its own dispute resolution process for workers. However, even under at-will employment laws, you can’t lose your job because of your religious beliefs, but you also don’t have carte blanche to bully people with your crackpot opinions. Carter even made a point of announcing her Trump support in the most aggressive manner possible.

The National Right-to-Work Legal Defense Foundation provided Carter with free legal assistance, presumably to help sock it to Southwest’s union. When Carter sued Southwest, she argued while the RLA allows union officials to have a worker fired for refusing to pay union dues or fees, "it does protect the rights of workers to criticize the union and its leadership and advocate for changing union leadership.” I don’t think sending messages that read “YOU ALL DISGUST ME!” is constructively advocating for change.

If the ruling stands, Carter could collect $4.15 million from Southwest and $950,000 in punitive damages from Local 556 of the Transport Workers Union. She’s set to live the glamorous life. Southwest is obviously appealing the decision.

Carter wasn’t fired because she posted anti-abortion rants on her personal social media. She was fired because she was an unprofessional jackass who viciously attacked a coworker. The First Amendment doesn't give religious bigots the right to inflict their own crusades on us.

[AP / Dallas Observer]

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. Once, he wrote a novel called “Mahogany Slade,” which you should read or at least buy. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."

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