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United immunization mandate suspended for employees requesting medical or religious exemptions




About 2,000 of US United’s 67,000 employees, or less than 3%, requested an exemption from the warrant on religious or medical grounds. United said that although their As requests for medical exemptions were granted, workers would be placed on sick leave, which may or may not include part of their salary, depending on their union contract. Employees whose requests for religious exemptions have been granted would be placed on indefinite leave without pay but would retain their seniority rights if they returned to the company at an indefinite future date.
The prospect of being laid off prompted six of those employees who sought religious or medical exemptions, or both, to file federal lawsuits last month in an attempt to stay on the payroll. United had initially agreed to suspend their leave while the case was litigated, but on Tuesday U.S. Judge Mark Pittman in Fort Worth, Texas issued a temporary injunction to keep them on the company’s payroll while ‘he hears the arguments in the case.

“The tribunal is not currently ruling on the merits of the parties’ arguments on these points,” Pittman wrote in his order. “Rather, the tribunal is simply seeking to avoid the risk of irreparable harm to the parties and to maintain the status quo while the tribunal holds an evidentiary hearing.”

United (UAL) said only 232 out of 67,000 U.S. personnel are at risk of dismissal for not receiving a vaccine by the Sept. 28 deadline to comply with the rule. This is about a third of 1% of the company’s workforce, and down from an initial estimate of around 600 unvaccinated employees. The lawsuit does not involve unvaccinated employees who have not requested an exemption and are therefore still threatened with dismissal.

Mark Paoletta, the plaintiffs’ attorney in the case, said he was grateful for the ruling, even though it was only temporary.

“United Airlines’ refusal to provide reasonable accommodations to its immunization mandate violates federal civil rights protections for our customers, the hardworking men and women at United,” said Paoletta. “We look forward to the rights of our customers being protected at all times.”

United issued a statement defending its vaccine mandate.

“The vaccine requirements are working and almost all of United’s US employees have chosen to be vaccinated. For a number of our employees who have been approved for accommodation, we strive to put in place options that reduce the risks to their health and safety, including new test patterns, temporary job reassignments and masking protocols. “

Two other major airlines, American Airlines (AAL) and South West (LCV), said they were preparing to impose their own vaccine mandates on U.S. employees to comply with proposed federal rules requiring vaccines for all employees of federal government contractors. But the pilot unions of these two airlines oppose the mandates.
The move comes the day after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued an order banning Texas employers from requiring employees to get vaccinated. The United States and the Southwest both say they are moving forward with their vaccine mandates because they believe federal regulations have greater legal authority than any rule of thumb. State.

– CNN’s Gregory Wallace contributed to this report




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