Today is the deadline for United Airlines employees to prove that they received their first COVID-19 shot or lost their jobs.
In early August, the country’s second largest airline announced that its 67,000 employees had until October 25 to be fully vaccinated. The move proved to be one of the strongest stances by a US company regarding vaccination and resonated through the airline industry, with United competitor Frontier soon announcing a similar mandate.
As of last week, the company said more than 97 percent of its US employees had taken the shot. However, that figure leaves about 2,000 more people as holdouts – and it appears these individuals will fight back.
Six United employees, including two pilots, a flight attendant, a technician, a customer service representative and a station operations representative, filed a lawsuit accusing the company of unlawfully denying religious and medical exemptions, causing It became difficult to apply for their requests.
Employees were reportedly given time till August 31 to request medical or religious exemptions through an online portal, but not both. Those who were exempt were informed they would be placed on “indefinite unpaid leave” with no company-paid benefits on October 2.
For customer-facing employees, the suit states that their leave will continue until the risk of COVID has reduced significantly [United] Understand[s] It’s safe.” For non-customer-facing employees, that their leave will last “for some time” [United] Work[s] all details out [and] Logistics of mitigation measures’.
“What United did was rely on arbitrary line-drawing rather than engaging in an interactive process with each employee requesting accommodation,” suit reads. “United’s actions have left plaintiffs with the impossible option of getting a COVID-19 vaccine at the cost of their religious beliefs and their health or losing their livelihood.”
The suit claims that along with the six named individuals, an estimated 2,000 more persons may be equally affected. United did not return newsweekTimely inquiry for publication about how many employees will be affected and likely to be fired under the new policy.
However, a United spokesperson previously told the AP that it was “reviewing” [the suit] in more detail, but at this point we feel it is without merit.”
Under US labor law, employers have the right to stipulate vaccination-related conditions as a condition of employment that allows them to fire those who do not comply. United’s mandate is largely supported by its employees along with its three primary labor unions—the Association of Flight Attendants, the Air Line Pilots Association, and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. sign of acceptance Why the mandate? However, he also said that some housing should be built.
Four of the six employees filed a religious exemption on the grounds that they believed the vaccines were developed using tissue from aborted fetuses. UCLA Health states that vaccines do not contain aborted fetal cells. However, embryonic cells were used in development and testing. Another employee said she was allergic to eggs and penicillin, and the last employee said her neurologist recommended against vaccination based on her multiple sclerosis diagnosis. They all got a discount.
Despite the waiver, United remained firm on its stance that these individuals should be kept away from the workplace for the time being as the company seeks to protect its other employees and customers. This indicated that the procedure for returning them to the workplace would be worked out in the future.
“Safety remains our top priority. We will continue to vigorously defend our policy – vaccine requirements have been in place for decades and have worked to keep airline employees and customers safe,” United wrote in a statement. Newsweek. “And with the pandemic continuing to kill more than 2,000 people every day, we are convinced that our vaccine policy saves lives. To date, 97 excluding employees who collect exemptions [percent] United’s American employees are vaccinated.”
Update 9/27/21 at 3:22PM ET: This article was updated with a statement from United Airlines.