AUSTIN, TX – A federal judge in Texas has ordered United Airlines not to place employees who are violating the company’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate on unpaid leave while a lawsuit regarding the matter plays out in the court system.
Six employees filed a federal lawsuit against United in September after the company had announced in August that all staff would be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and that any workers who requested religious or medical exemptions would be placed on indefinite unpaid leave of absence.
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit say that United did not provide “reasonable accommodations” for employees that were against taking the jab and claimed that the airline had violated the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Civil Rights Act.
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On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Mark Pittman ordered United to pause their plans against unvaccinated employees until he has issued a final ruling in the case.
“The Court now concludes it is necessary to issue this Temporary Restraining Order to avoid risking irreparable injury and to maintain the status quo in this case pending the Court’s hearing and resolution of Plaintiffs’ Motion for Preliminary Injunction,” Pittman said.
After Tuesday’s ruling, United Airlines issued a statement:
“Vaccine requirements work and nearly all of United’s U.S. employees have chosen to get a shot. For a number of our employees who were approved for an accommodation, we’re working to put options in place that reduce the risk to their health and safety, including new testing regimens, temporary job reassignments and masking protocols.”
United CEO Scott Kirby said Wednesday during a CBS interview that a vast majority of the company’s employees – 99.7 percent – have been vaccinated, noting that the remaining 232 holdouts would be fired.
“You know I wish we would have gotten to 100 percent, but out of our 67,000 U.S. employees there are 232 who haven’t been vaccinated and they are going through the termination process now,” Kirby said.