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US court rejects appeal to counter United Airlines vaccine mandate

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Six United Airlines employees filed an appeal contesting the company’s vaccine demand, but it was denied by a federal court in the United States.

In September of 2021, Sambrano v. United Airlines, 21-11159, was filed.

United Airlines announced in October 2021 that its unvaccinated pilots are costing the firm millions of dollars per month since vaccinated pilots refuse to fly with unvaccinated colleagues.

The airline can place staff with vaccination exemptions on unpaid leave, the court ruled the following month.

The complaint challenges the airline’s restrictions, which include putting unvaccinated employees on unpaid leave if they have a religious or medical objection to the compulsion.

The latest decision was made by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit on December 15, 2021. A move to expedite an appeal in the case was also allowed by the court.

Here’s a brief overview of what happened:

United Airlines began requiring all domestic employees to receive a COVID-19 immunization on August 6, 2021, unless they are excused due to medical or religious reasons.

Employees who have been granted religious or medical exemptions from receiving the COVID-19 vaccine will be placed on unpaid leave on September 8, 2021, according to an airline document.

A number of United Airlines employees, including two pilots, a flight attendant, and an aircraft technician, filed a federal lawsuit against the obligation in late September 2021, claiming that unpaid leave constituted an adverse employment action.

United Airlines’ proposal to place unvaccinated employees who request a medical or religious exemption on unpaid vacation until October 26, 2021 was temporarily halted by US District Judge Mark Pittman in early October 2021.

Pittman extended the temporary restraining order (TRO) to November 8, 2021 on October 25, 2021. This means that any employees who requested a medical or religious exemption will continue to be paid by the corporation.

On November 8, 2021, the Court found that the Plaintiffs had not met their burden of proving that they would suffer immediate and irreparable harm if an injunction was not issued. United Airlines has been granted permission to continue its unpaid leave program for employees who have medical or religious exemptions from the COVID-19 vaccine.

Judge James Ho disagreed with putting unvaccinated employees on leave on December 15, 2021, claiming that the company demand violated a Civil Rights Act provision prohibiting employers from discriminating on the basis of religion. A move to expedite an appeal in the case was also allowed by the court.

“We recognize that the greatest approach to keep everyone as safe as possible is for everyone to be vaccinated, as nearly all United employees have opted to do,” United remarked to local press after the district court judgment.

Every 30 days, the airline will review COVID-19 transmission and case rates to determine when it is safe to allow unvaccinated employees to return to their previous positions.

 

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