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Judge upholds United Airlines employee vaccination mandate



(Reuters) – A US federal judge ruled Monday that United Airlines Holdings Inc. may impose on its employees a covid-19 vaccine mandate that provides unpaid leave only to workers who are exempt from medical or religious reasons.

U. District Judge Mark Pittman of Fort Worth, Texas, dismissed arguments from employees that the airline incorrectly put them in an "impossible position" by forcing them to choose a vaccine or unpaid leave.

Judge Pittman was critical of United Airlines' approach. against employees seeking religious exemptions, but said in the end that personnel policy was up to the company and no employee was forced to accept a vaccine.

An employee lawyer did not respond to a request for comment.

The verdict comes when U.S. employers arm themselves to follow rules issued by the Biden Administration that require companies with at least 1

00 employees to vaccinate their employees against covid-19 or undergo regular testing.

Employer mandate, which includes exceptions for religious and medical reasons , have generally been determined by courts. United Airlines was the first major airline to introduce a vaccine requirement and others have since followed.

United gave about 2,000 exceptions. However, employees in roles including pilots, flight attendants and customer service agents had to take unpaid leave until the pandemic ended.

United said in a statement that they were happy with the verdict and would try to find roles as "non-customer-facing" for exempt employees. If they refuse, they will be given time off, United said.

The complainants alleged that United had breached their legal obligations by not accepting released employees that most companies have by allowing them to continue in their role while submitting to regular tests and wears a mask. They also said they would lose service time and other benefits if they were given time off.

The company said allowing unvaccinated workers in the workplace would undermine the safety of its flights, although Judge Pittman noted that the company admitted there was almost no chance for covid- 19 outbreaks on its plane.

Judge Pittman said he was "disturbed" by United's seemingly thoughtless attitude to his employees' concerns about taking the vaccine. those who express diversity of thought. ”

Legal claims relating to exceptional adaptations are usually dealt with through an administrative process with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission before a lawsuit is filed.


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