A new federal lawsuit found that the airline violated state and federal anti-discrimination laws when it let go of two Christian flight attendants who spoke out against the Equality Act.
A federal lawsuit filed by plaintiffs Marli Brown and Lacey Smith, two flight attendants for Alaska Airlines claimed they were terminated after expressing concern over the Equality Act. The Equality Act is a Biden administration-backed measure that would add "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" to the list of protected classes for public spaces, education, and employment under federal law.
According to the Christian Headlines, Alaska Airlines on February 25, 2021 posted an article on an online employee message board about the company's support for the Equality Act. The airline company also asked for employee comments. Brown and Smith both spoke out against the measure in the employee forum, raising their concerns about how the Equality Act would impact religious freedom, women's sports, and other facets of life. The lawsuit said that both Christian flight attendants "felt compelled by their Christian faith" to speak out against the measure.
Brown asked in the forum, "Does Alaska support: endangering the Church, encouraging suppression of religious freedom, obliterating women's rights and parental rights?"
Meanwhile, Smith also posted the question, "As a company, do you think it's possible to regulate morality?"
Alaska Airlines Allegedly Fired Christian Flight Attendants Over Their Religious Views
According to the lawsuit filed by Brown and Smith, Alaska Airlines responded to their comments by "immediately removing Marli and Lacey from their flight schedules, terminating their employment, and disparaging their religious expression and beliefs as 'discriminatory,' 'hateful,' and 'offensive.'"
The Christian flight attendants also accused their union of "[failing] to effectively represent them" and ignoring civil rights laws that ban religious discrimination. In the lawsuit, they argued that Alaska Airlines violated Title VII, a federal anti-discrimination law that provides protections based on sex, race, religion, color, and national origin. Furthermore, the lawsuit alleges that Alaska Airlines' treatment of the two Christian flight attendants in indicative of how they don't tolerate biblical or religious beliefs on sexual morality.
First Liberty Institute, a nonprofit Christian conservative legal organization based in Plano, Texas, is representing the two flight attendants. In a news release, FLI's senior counsel Stephanie Taub remarked that the two Christian flight attendants opposed to the Equality Act were "canceled" by Alaska Airlines because of their religious beliefs. Taub added that the airline "flagrantly [disregarded] federal civil rights laws" that provide protection against discrimination based on faith. She remarked that the flight attendants' termination was a "blatant violation" of federal laws.
The Equality Act has been an issue among religious circles because it sets the stage for discrimination against workers and employees with sincerely held religious beliefs. The Biden administration-backed measure explicitly prohibits anyone from using the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 to file a case based on claims within the Equality Act. The 1993 law prevents the government from "substantially burdening a person's exercise of religion."