Freedom of Thought

Judge orders rel⁠i⁠g⁠i⁠ous l⁠i⁠ber⁠t⁠y ⁠t⁠ra⁠i⁠n⁠i⁠ng for Sou⁠t⁠hwes⁠t⁠ A⁠i⁠rl⁠i⁠nes

August 17, 2023

Judge orders religious liberty training for Southwest Airlines

Freedom of Thought

August 17, 2023

When Southwest Airlines failed to meet the expectations of the court following a ruling against them, a federal judge in Texas sanctioned Southwest and is requiring that they attend “religious liberty training” from Alliance Defending Freedom.

According to the original lawsuit, Southwest Airlines terminated flight attendant Charlene Carter for expressing pro-life views to her union president. A jury decided in Carter’s favor in December of 2022 last year and Southwest Airlines, along with Transport Union Workers, had to reinstate her as an employee. Along with rehiring and compensating for damages, the court ordered Southwest and TUW to issue a statement informing all flight attendants “that, under Title VII, they 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.”

Instead, Southwest and TUW issued a statement including only part of the required language, saying “Southwest does not discriminate against our employees for their religious practices and beliefs.” The judge says Southwest also sent a memo to flight attendants which “lambasts Carter.” After this non-compliance, a federal judge sanctioned them and ordered them to take “religious liberty training” through ADF by August 28th. In his decision, he wrote “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.”

“Every company should respect religious liberty and diverse viewpoints in the workplace,” said Jim Campbell, ADF’s chief legal counsel. “We are happy to help Southwest achieve that goal by providing training on Title VII and other applicable laws barring religious discrimination.” Southwest and TUW have appealed the judge’s December decision and plan to appeal the sanctions order as well. 

This case highlights the fact that, although there are protections for religious expression in the workplace, religious liberty is still under attack in America. Three out of five Americans hesitate to share their religious viewpoints outside of work for fear of how it might affect them while at work, according to a 2022 study. Cases like Charlene Carter’s prove these fears are founded. 

Though diversity is often touted as a high priority by businesses in America, religion and viewpoint diversity is not always protected. According to the same study, one in four Americans have experienced or know someone who has experienced discrimination based on religious expression or a diverse viewpoint. 

Religious liberty training is a great option for companies wanting to improve their workforce through diversity. Our differences are one of our greatest strengths, and those include the difference of ideas and religious expression.