Two former flight attendants for Alaska Airlines are suing the company for religious discrimination after the airline fired them for raising questions about the company’s support of the federal Equality Act.
Heavily promoted by the LGBTQ lobby and progressive groups, the Equality Act would prioritize LGBTQ rights over constitutional religious liberties and invalidate key parts of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, opponents of the bill say.
The lawsuit, filed by First Liberty Institute on behalf of plaintiffs Marli Brown and Lacey Smith, also claims the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) union failed to defend the plaintiffs based on their religious beliefs.
“Alaska Airlines ‘canceled’ Lacey and Marli because of their religious beliefs, flagrantly disregarding federal civil rights laws that protect people of faith from discrimination,” said Stephanie Taub, senior counsel for First Liberty Institute. “It is a blatant violation of state and federal civil rights laws to discriminate against someone in the workplace because of their religious beliefs and expression. ‘Woke’ corporations like Alaska Airlines think that they do not have to follow the law and can fire employees if they simply don’t like their religious beliefs.”
In early 2021, Alaska Airlines announced its support for the Equality Act in a company online forum, allowing comments from employees. According to First Liberty, Smith posted a question, asking, “As a company, do you think it’s possible to regulate morality?”
Likewise, Brown asked, “Does Alaska support: endangering the Church, encouraging suppression of religious freedom, obliterating women rights and parental rights? ….”
Even though both plaintiffs had exemplary records, the airline subsequently investigated them and eventually fired them.
The airline claims the two flight attendants’ comments were “discriminatory,” “hateful,” and “offensive.” Alaska Airlines told Smith in her dismissal papers, “Defining gender identity or sexual orientation as a moral issue … is … a discriminatory statement.”
In the lawsuit, First Liberty attorneys argue: “Despite Alaska Airlines’ claimed commitment to an inclusive culture and its frequent invitations to employees to dialogue and express a diversity of perspectives, Alaska Airlines created a work environment that is hostile toward religion, and AFA reinforced that company culture.
“Alaska Airlines and AFA cannot wield their social advocacy as a sword to unlawfully discriminate against religious employees and instead must remain mindful of their legal obligation to ‘do the right thing’ towards all employees, including religious employees. The Court must hold Alaska Airlines and the AFA accountable for their discrimination.”
Photo: Jon Lord Photography/Alamy