NEWS & ANALYSIS

Judge Orders United Airlines Not to Put Workers Seeking Vaccine Exemption on Leave


A federal judge Tuesday ordered United Airlines not to place workers seeking a vaccine exemption on unpaid leave. 

The temporary ruling was issued by U.S. District Judge Mark Pittman in efforts to ensure workers who filed for an exemption aren’t harmed before he can hear oral arguments, the Epoch Times reports. 

Last month, six United workers sued the company over its plans to put any employee requesting religious or medical exemptions on leave. The lawsuit cites employees being told they’d be terminated if they sought exemptions, and alleged the company was violating the Civil Rights Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. 

“United’s actions have left Plaintiffs with the impossible choice of either taking the COVID-19 vaccine, at the expense of their religious beliefs and their health, or losing their livelihoods. In doing so, United has violated Title VII and the ADA by failing to engage in the interactive process and provide reasonable accommodations, and also by retaliating against employees who engaged in protected activity,” the lawsuit states. 

Pittman believed it was necessary to issue a temporary halt, effective through October 31. 

“If the parties’ stipulation were to expire without temporary injunctive relief in place, nothing would prevent hundreds of workers from ostensibly either: (1) being compelled to take a vaccination in violation of their religious beliefs or medical restrictions, or (2) being placed on indefinite unpaid leave by United,” he said.