Pushback: Judge rules flight attendant must be rehired by Southwest, but reduces her award significantly

Southwest Airlines: Enemy to free speech

Blacklists are back and the business community loves ’em: Though Charlene Carter, the Southwest flight attendant who was fired because she expressed opinions the company and her union did not like, had won her lawsuit against the company, federal district Judge Brantley Starr has reduced the jury award to her from $5.1 million to $810,000 in order “to comply with federal limits on punitive damages.”

The judge this week reduced that award to $300,000 in compensatory and punitive damages from Southwest and $300,000 from the union, $150,000 in back pay and about $60,000 in interest.

In ordering Southwest to reinstate Carter this week, the judge made a reference to a line in Southwest advertising campaigns. “Bags fly free with Southwest. But free speech didn’t fly at all with Southwest in this case,” Starr wrote.

This story is an update on two previous blacklist columns, the second of which described the ugly email correspondence between company and union officials prior to Carter’s firing. Brian Talburt, an official with the Transit Workers Union (TWU), had written to both his boss, union head Audrey Stone, as well as one Southwest manager as follows about Carter:
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Pushback: Flight attendant fired for having opinions wins big against airline and union

Southwest: Enemy to free speech

Bring a gun to a knife fight: Charlene Carter, a flight attendant who had worked at Southwest Airlines for 20 years but was fired in 2017 because she had publicly opposed the use of her union dues to fund pro-abortion protests, has now won a $5.1 million lawsuit against both Southwest and her union.

A jury in a Dallas federal district court handed down the verdict, ruling Charlene Carter had been fired for her religious stance on abortion, which she shared to social media, and that her termination was in violation of her right to advocate against her union.

If it stands, Carter could collect $4.15 million from Southwest and $950,000 from Local 556 of the Transport Workers Union, mostly in punitive damages.

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