A Southwest Airlines flight attendant, Charlene Carter, is suing her airline for “retaliation and illegal termination” after she was let go over a disagreement with the then-President of the airline’s flight attendants union.
Audrey Stone, serving as President of Transport Workers Union of America Local 556, participated in the January 2017 Women’s March along with other members of the union “with signs identifying their union affiliation.”
Carter objected to the union’s politics in participating, and the pro-choice position she evinced, so she sent videos “purporting to show aborted fetuses” to the union head. The union boss reported her to the airline for harassment, and Southwest dismissed her that March.
Now things are getting nasty in litigation. Southwest is trying to have her pro bono attorney removed from the case for having served Audrey Stone with a subpeona directly, rather than through counsel, claiming she was now being intimidated by the attorney.
- He couldn’t have known Ms. Stone’s whereabouts without accessing confidential airline information
The airline claimed that in order to have access to Stone’s location and hotel information, Gilliam must have been given sensitive information only available to airline employees, and that Stone’s schedule is given an extra layer of security on top of the usual precautions.
- The process server approached her while armed
For his part the attorney Matthew Gilliam responds that Southwest is merely speculating over how the process server found Stone, and that “two separate parties had provided that information unsolicited to his client” and the process server was armed “in New Mexico, an open carry state,” and so that is not legally objectionable. And even if the process server had acted improperly the complaint is with that process server.
Now, unions take political positions their members disagree with all the time. And members should feel free to communicate with their union leadership over those disagreements. It’s fair to proscribe the time, place and manner for those disagreements – including not sending photos of aborted fetuses over Facebook messenger – but shocking for a union President to secure for the firing of a union member over an internal union matter. This should have been handled internally within the union.