An Allegiant Air flight attendant has filed a lawsuit against her union claiming that as a Christian, her sincere religious beliefs prevent her from paying mandatory union dues. Annlee Post of Knoxville, Tennessee says in the lawsuit filed in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee that she has faced religious discrimination because the union has failed to accommodate her by rescinding the need for her to pay fees.
Under the Railway Labor Act, when an airline workgroup chooses to be represented by a union, every employee within that workgroup is legally compelled to join the union and pay the required dues.
Normally, refusing to pay the dues could result in dismissal but in the case of a collective bargaining agreement reached between Allegiant and the Transport Workers Union (TWU), failure to pay the required dues would be punished with the loss of bidding priviliges.
The lawsuit describes bidding privileges as a “means to acquire seniority rights, among other thigs, which control being chosen for an available job, seeking promotion, determining work location, scheduling vacation, obtaining minimum days off, and securing a preference in work scheduling and work trips”.
Post says that as a Christina she objects to financially supporting the union because of her sincere religious beliefs. At no point in the lawsuit does Post explain why her religious beliefs conflict with being a member of a union or why other devout Christian’s have no issue with being a union member or paying union dues.
Post says she sent two letters to the union explaining the conflict between being a Christian and paying union dues and instead asked to make an alternative payment to charity. The union allowed Post to direct her dues towards a charity for all payments after April 15, 2019, but insisted she pay the owed dues from April 15, 2018, up to March 15, 2019.
“The union has refused to accommodate Ms Post,” the lawsuit claims of its decision to demand some of the owed dues. “The union has threatened to enforce the collective bargaining agreement and revoke her biding privileges”.
Post is being helped by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation – a group that says offers free legal aid to employees “whose human or civil rights have been violated by compulsory unionism abuses”.
“Annlee Post and others like her should not have to choose between privileges at work and their religious beliefs,” National Right to Work President Mark Mix told the Christian Post.
“No worker should be forced to fund a union with which they disagree,” he continued.
Despite Allegiant’s flight attendants voting in favor of unionization back in 2010, it took seven years for the TWU and the airline to agree on a collective bargaining agreement. Post joined the airline two years before the bargaining agreement was signed.
Post is demanding damages for “emotional pain, suffering, and mental anguish”, as well as the right to refrain from paying fees to the union. She would also like the union to inform all Allegiant flight attendants that a religious objection “frees them from paying any union fees”.
A complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission could not be resolved but the commission gave Post permission to take further legal action against the union in court.
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