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Wed, Oct 20, 2021

United Ordered Not to Deny Exemptions... For Now

A Temporary Detente In Place ‘Til Oct. 26

A Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) has been issued, preventing United Airlines from denying certain requests for religious and medical accommodations from its COVID-19 vaccination mandate, until October 26.

It disallows denial specifically for applications received after August 31st, preventing "hundreds of workers" from being placed on indefinite unpaid leave. The TRO is a continuation of an agreement last month to maintain the status quo, until outstanding legal action reaches a verdict. 

Those employees with deeply held religious beliefs, or medical restrictions preventing the application of the vaccine have gained a short respite, while court battles move forward throughout the industry. One group of United employees hopes to turn their case into a class-action suit, leveraging the 2,000 of United's 67,000 employees asking for exemptions.

Their claim in the suit alleges that United has violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 along with the ADA in its refusal to include employees in the decision. They believe that reasonable accommodations were not made available, and some workers received retaliation for engaging in protected activity. United reports that a regimen for untreated employees has been put into place, involving mask usage, testing, and temporary job reassignments. 

The Biden admin’s executive order set a date of December 8th for all federal employees and contractors to be fully vaccinated. Given that most, if not all, operators in the U.S. derive some portion of their work from government assignments, the mandate reaches wider than it may seem at first glance. Like most carriers, United receives contracts from federal organizations often enough to fall under the rule. Earlier this month, CEO Scott Kirby said the overall vaccination rate in the company was already 99.7%, very similar to Delta’s reported rate as well.  

FMI: www.united.com

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