Lawyers avoid mandatory religious liberty instruction, for now
Lawyers for Southwest Airlines didn’t have to attend religious liberty training Tuesday as a result of a temporary administrative stay granted by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at New Orleans. Photo from Shutterstock.
Lawyers for Southwest Airlines didn’t have to attend religious liberty training Tuesday as a result of a temporary administrative stay granted by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at New Orleans.
U.S. District Judge Brantley Starr of the Northern District of Texas had ruled in August that three Southwest Airlines lawyers must take the training for “inverting” his order to inform flight attendants that the airline can’t discriminate based on religious practices and beliefs.
The notice posted by Southwest Airlines says a court “ordered us to inform you that Southwest does not discriminate against our employees for their religious practices and beliefs.” Starr said the language made it sound as if he was “bequeathing Southwest a badge of honor for not discriminating.”
Starr said the training would be provided by the conservative Christian nonprofit Alliance Defending Freedom. Alliance Defending Freedom has previously represented a cake baker and a website designer who did not want to provide services for same-sex weddings. It has also challenged the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the abortion medication mifepristone.
Southwest Airlines had filed a Sept. 6 motion arguing that Starr’s order “exceeds the civil-contempt power, violates the First Amendment, rests on a jury verdict unlikely to survive appeal, and, left unstayed, will irreparably harm Southwest and its attorneys,” according to Law360.
The plaintiff in the case, Charlene Carter, was fired after she opposed the use of union funds to help members attend a women’s march sponsored by Planned Parenthood. Carter had criticized the union president on social media and included images of aborted fetuses, according to Law360.
Southwest Airlines said Carter had violated its social media policies; Carter alleged religious discrimination. She was awarded $800,000 in damages.