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Pushback: Two Alaska Airlines flight attendants fired for asking questions file lawsuit

Alaska Airlines: Opposed to free speech and religious freedom
Alaska Airlines: Opposed to free speech and religious freedom
Picture credit: Quintin Soloviev

Bring a gun to a knife fight: Today’s blacklist story is a follow-up on a September 2021 story about two flight attendants — Marli Brown and Lacey Smith — who were fired by Alaska Airlines because they had the nerve to question the airline’s public support of a gay rights bill, and asked those questions on a forum the airline had itself arranged for employees to comment.

At the time the attendants, represented by the First Liberty Institute, had filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which recently issued “right-to-sue” letters to both attendants.

First Liberty has now filed its lawsuit, which you can read here [pdf]. The suit is against both Alaska Airlines and the Association of Flight Attendants Association of the AFL-CIO that failed to defend both Brown and Smith. From the complaint:

On February 25, 2021, Alaska Airlines posted an article about its support for the Equality Act to an internal employee message board and solicited employee comments. The Equality Act is proposed legislation that would add “sexual orientation and gender identity” as protected classes to a variety of federal statutes and would curtail the applicability of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

In response, Marli and Lacey felt compelled by their Christian faith to post one comment each, asking about the impact of the Equality Act on civil rights for religion and women in the workplace.

Alaska Airlines responded to Marli and Lacey’s posts by immediately removing Marli and Lacey from their flight schedules, terminating their employment, and disparaging their religious expression and beliefs as “discriminatory,” “hateful,” and “offensive.”

When Marli and Lacey—both union members—faced termination because of their religious practices and beliefs, AFA failed to effectively represent them, ignoring civil rights laws prohibiting both employers and unions from discriminating on the basis of religion.

The highlighted words illustrate the utterly absurd and contemptible actions of Alaska Airlines. It asked for comments on an internal company message board, but when it got comments from Brown and Smith it didn’t like it immediately acted to punish them for wrongthink.

The lawsuit notes that both the airline and the union violated federal law by discriminating against Brown and Smith because of their religion and creating a hostile work environment. The airline also violated Washington state’s laws against discrimination, workplace harassment, retaliation, and religious persecution. The suit calls for back pay and full restitution plus damages from both Alaska Airline and the union.

When I reported this story in September, Marli Brown had requested anonymity, probably out of a reasonable fear of both physical and verbal attacks. She has now gone public, clearly deciding that the fight is worth the risk. Good for her! As I wrote in September about this case:

Do not comply. Do not agree. Oppose them, loudly, publicly, and with courage. Make them fight you, because if you sit on your hands and make believe the problem isn’t yours, it very soon will be.

One by one, the several hundred examples of discrimination, blackballing, censorship, and oppression that I have documented in this blacklist column since January 2020 are beginning to show up in the courts, with almost all having solid grounds for big victories. The companies and universities that somehow decided that they could unilaterally revoke the Bill of Rights and all civil rights laws are beginning to discover that they do not have such power. These entities are now about to face huge settlements or defeats in the courts for that foolishness.

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  • Edward

    From the lawsuit (PDF):

    Marli spoke by phone with Adams and Taylor, who again told her that the facts she read in her research were incorrect.

    Oh, look. Alaska Airlines has its own Ministry of Truth. Essentially, Marli was punished for asking a question based upon facts that the airline had deemed “incorrect.”

    Rather than reply to Marli’s question, the airline declared her wrong, and walked her to the parking lot — walked her to the parking lot — before telling her that the facts upon which her question was based did not meet approved corporate specifications.

    Pretty harsh treatment for someone whose concerns were merely based upon incorrect information. In polite society, one corrects the facts for the person, letting her know that she need not be concerned, because her source had misinformed her. Instead, Alaska Airlines walks her out the door before she can infect anyone else with her evil disinformation. The airline contained the evil, separated it from the herd, and summarily fired it.

    By the way, I just checked the airline’s website, and it still says what the lawsuit complains about:

    See how we’re advancing equity.

    At Alaska, we believe every person deserves respect, to feel like they belong and have equal opportunity regardless of race, ethnicity, disability, age, gender or sexual orientation.

    Just so long as “equity” omits religion.

    At Alaska, they believe in Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity (DIE), just so long as religion is not included, perhaps because it is not diverse enough or equitable. If you belong to a religion, or perhaps to the wrong religion, then the airline does not believe you are a person deserving of respect, to feel like you belong, or that you should have equal opportunity. Unless it is the opportunity to be walked to your car, sans employee badge.

    Well, now we know what it means to be Woke. (Be Woke and DIE.)

  • GWB

    disparaging their religious expression and beliefs as “discriminatory,” “hateful,” and “offensive.”
    Understand that they do this because of their Progressive religion. They deny it and claim they aren’t ‘religious’ at all. But Progressivism is very much a religion. And you can much more easily see why and how they’re operating once you get that it’s a religion. So many people actually believe the received wisdom of the Progressive priests and prophets.

    Though Marxism would like you to think they’re freeing the people from “the opiate of the masses”, they’re really just switching you over to meth.

  • ARR


    I grew up in Alaska and used to travel on (Seattle based) Alaska Airlines quite a bit. They used to serve real food and on the tray there was a small card with a prayer or psalm. I know they don’t serve food and I suspect they don’t hand out religious materials out anymore.

  • David-2

    Is this the same Alaska Airlines that used to put little cards featuring a verse from the bible on each snack/meal tray to each passenger?

  • Just me

    The reason these cases accrue is because the perpetrators face no consequences. They can indulge their power tripping instincts and their narcissism and if there are any consequences at all, someone else – probably the evil capitalist shareholders – will pay the price. What incentive do they have to change?

  • Edward

    The lawsuit makes note that the airline once had given out those cards but that it no longer does. This is only a portion of their evidence that the company exercised religious discrimination against these two employees (when they were employees).

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