Alaska Airlines accused of “canceling” flight attendants for expressing religious beliefs

Two dismissed Alaska Airlines flight attendants who said they were fired after questioning the company’s support for the equality law have filed a complaint against the airline for discrimination.

Represented by First Liberty, a law firm that defends religious freedoms, the charge was filed at the local Seattle office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on August 18 on behalf of the former flight attendants .

The federal complaint alleges the company took unfair retaliation against employees Lacey Smith and another flight attendant, who wished to remain anonymous, after questioning airlines’ support for the passage of the Act. legality.

Lacey Smith. Photo courtesy of the First Liberty Institute.
First Institute of Freedom

Alaska Airlines said in a discharge notice for Smith, that “defining gender identity or sexual orientation as a moral issue … is … a discriminatory statement,” according to First Liberty. This was after Smith asked, “As a business, do you think it’s possible to regulate morality? She made the request in an online company forum, which was public to employees and where they were invited to comment. While apparently several Alaska Airlines employees expressed that they liked Smith’s comment, it was later withdrawn.

Likewise, the other dismissed employee reportedly asked: “Does Alaska support: endangering the Church, encouraging the suppression of religious freedom, erasing the rights of women and men? parental rights? … “

It was after the two made the comments that Smith and the other employee said they were fired.

“The company’s cancellation of Lacey Smith and the other flight attendant really mocks federal civil rights law that protects religious Americans from discrimination in the workplace,” David said. Hacker, lawyer and director of litigation for First Liberty. News week. “If we can’t do what our federal civil rights say, then they don’t mean anything. “

While News week contacted Alaska Airlines for comment, there was no response until this article was published. It is not immediately clear why the company mentioned or discussed the equality law.

Stan Deal and Diana Birkett Rakow.
Stan Deal, President and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, with Diana Birkett Rakow, Vice President of Public Affairs and Sustainability of Alaska Airlines, talks about Boeing’s ecoDemonstrator program at Arlington Washington Reagan National Airport in Virginia on July 28, 2021.

“I was shocked that the airline I loved working for fired me for asking a question about something the airline asked us to support,” Smith said. News week. The former employee had worked there for almost eight years. “I thought my question would receive the same level of respect that I give others. It’s scary to think Americans can lose their jobs for just asking questions about important matters.”

The Equality Act, known as House Resolution 5, was introduced to Congress in February this year. The House of Representatives passed the law by a vote of 224 to 206 on February 25. The bill then passed to the Senate where its fate is uncertain.

The bill was one that President Biden said would be one of his top legislative priorities during his first 100 days in office. On his first day as president, he signed a decree on preventing and combating discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation.

The bill itself prohibits discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation and gender identity in areas such as public housing and facilities, education, federal funding, professional housing, credit and jury system. It defines and more specifically includes sex, sexual orientation and gender identity among the prohibited categories of discrimination and segregation.

While the equality law enjoys wide support among Democrats, controversy has surrounded the aspect that prohibits an individual from being denied access to a shared facility, including restrooms, locker rooms and a cloakroom consistent with the gender identity of the individual. Those who oppose it also fear that it undermines religious objections.

“This would change and negatively impact the protections Americans already enjoy under the laws,” Hacker said.

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