Monday, federal district court judge Brantley Starr (Trump) ordered three Southwest Airlines attorneys to attend “religious liberty training” after ignoring a previous court order to inform employees of their rights under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act that prohibits discrimination based upon religious beliefs. This adds insult to injury after a Texas jury found Southwest Airlines fired flight attendant Charlene Carter because of her religious beliefs and awarded her $5 million in damages.
The story starts in 2013 when Carter resigned from the Transport Workers Union in a dispute over its ideology and politics. Unfortunately, the airline industry is governed by the Railway Labor Act, which allows her to resign from union membership, but she must continue to pay union dues. As a result, she became a pain in the side, or some other close-by body part, to union apparatchiks. In 2017, a clutch of pro-abort flight attendants flew to the “Women’s March” in Washington, D.C. She believed union funds had been used to underwrite the Karen expedition and that Southwest had arranged schedules so the Chardonnay Antifa could fight the patriarchy. In response, Carter used her personal email and social media accounts to send pro-life messages, and she communicated with union leadership about her opposition to the union supporting abortion. She was fired on March 14, 2017, and sued Southwest and her union for retaliation and violating her rights. The whole story of her ordeal and vindication at trial can be found at this link.
In addition to the $5 million award, Judge Starr ordered the company to notify all flight attendants that Southwest may not discriminate based on religious beliefs. What Southwest did was reminiscent of part of the “apology” scene in Patton.
Let’s go to Judge Starr’s order from Monday to see what happened.
Specifically, the Court ordered “Southwest…to inform Southwest flight attendants that, under Title VII, [Southwest] may not discriminate against Southwest flight attendants for their religious practices and beliefs.’ Instead, Southwest’s notice said, ‘[t]he court … ordered us to inform you that Southwest does not discriminate against our Employees for their religious practices and beliefs.’”
Southwest’s notice failed to mention Title VII, that the federal law known as Title VII contains a prohibition, and that that prohibition forbids Southwest from discriminating against flight attendants for their religious beliefs. Instead, Southwest’s notice communicated that there’s nothing to see here—aside from the Court’s bequeathing Southwest a badge of honor for not discriminating (which the Court did not do).
Not content with merely inverting the Court’s notice, Southwest also sent a memo to its flight attendants the same day, stating that its employees must abide by the types of policies over which Southwest fired Carter and that it believed its firing of Carter was justified because of those policies.
Carter asked for sanctions. Judge Starr agreed and found Southwest in civil contempt.
The first part of his remedy required Southwest to send out a statement drafted by Starr.
The United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas ordered Southwest to issue the following statement to you:
On December 20, 2022, Southwest’s Legal Department issued an e-mail to all flight attendants entitled “Recent Court Decision” regarding a federal court judgment against Southwest and Transport Workers Union, Local 556. That e-mail said, “[t]he court . . . ordered us to inform you that Southwest does not discriminate against our Employees for their religious practices and beliefs.” The United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas subsequently found that the statement’s use of “does not discriminate” was incorrect. Accordingly, the Court has ordered Southwest’s Legal Department to issue the following amended statement:
Under Title VII, Southwest may not discriminate against Southwest flight attendants for their religious practices and beliefs, including—but not limited to—those expressed on social media and those concerning abortion.
Then comes the fun part.
Because Southwest’s right to speak when implementing the Court’s injunction ensures a continued partnership in the future, and Southwest’s speech and actions toward employees demonstrate a chronic failure to understand the role of federal protections for religious freedom, the Court concludes that training on religious freedom for three lawyers at Southwest the Court finds responsible (Kerrie Forbes, Kevin Minchey, and Chris Maberry) is the least restrictive means of achieving compliance with the Court’s order. The Alliance Defending Freedom (“ADF”) has conducted such training in the past, and the Court deems that appropriate here.
Southwest is appealing the jury verdict and sanctions. Judge Starr has ordered the training to be complete by August 28, so we’ll see how that plays out.
Just two observations here.
First, Southwest’s management is evil. Establishing a “civility rule” that requires someone to check their conscience at the door is little short of totalitarian. Using that rule to punish someone for their religious conviction is evil. It is too bad that this could not have been a criminal case. Getting beaten in court and refusing to obey the terms of the judgment is childish. Childish and evil is not needed in America; we have enough problems.
Second, why did Southwest disobey Judge Starr’s order? Either they didn’t care what he ordered them to do or thought they could ignore it and not get caught. We’ve no reason to assume anyone in Southwest’s legal shop is completely stupid, so we are left with the “didn’t care” option. Why would that be? I’d be willing to bet good money that his appointment by Trump is the answer. This was just a way of showing contempt for the former president while still worshipping Moloch.
I can’t imagine this bullsh** surviving an encounter with the Fifth Circuit.
Sanctions Memorandum by Judge Starr
Sanctions Opinion in Carter vs. TWU and Southwest Airlines by streiff on Scribd