A Texan District Judge has ordered three senior lawyers from Southwest Airlines to attend “religious liberty training” from a prominent Christian group.
Brantley Starr, the federal judge for Northern Texas, issued the order on 7 August. He gave the lawyers until 28 August to attend an eight-hour “training session” conducted by Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), according to Reuters.
ADF is a high-profile, controversial conservative legal advocacy group. The group participated heavily in the efforts to restrict access to the abortion pill and in overturning of Roe v. Wade last year.
The ruling comes after Charlene Carter, a former flight attendant for Southwest Airlines, sued the airline and her former union. Carter criticised her union’s participation in a Women’s March supported by Planned Parenthood and sent abusive messages to the union’s president, resulting in her being fired.
Starr ruled that Carter was the victim of “religious discrimination”. He ordered that three of the company’s senior lawyers undergo “religious liberty training” from ADF. He also ordered the company to make employees aware of their rights against supposed religious discrimination.
Southwest Airlines revealed on 8 August that it will appeal the ruling.
The choice of ADF to conduct the training is concerning
ADF is a Christian legal advocacy group, described by Southern Poverty Law Center as a “hate group”.
The organisation intends to “roll back abortion rights, demonise trans people, and peel back the protections afforded to gay and queer Americans”, The Guardian reports.
The group threatens the rights of women and LGBTQIA+ people across the States.
There is no evidence to suggest ADF’s direct involvement in the case against Southwest Airlines. However, the choice of the group to conduct this “religious liberty training” is deeply troubling.