(Reuters) -United Airlines Inc. faces allegations that it illegally denied religious and medical exemptions from requiring employees to receive COVID-19 vaccines after alleging that it has been difficult for workers to apply for them .
Six United employees filed a class action lawsuit in Texas federal court on Tuesday, claiming that workers seeking exemptions from the vaccine mandate were subjected to intrusive inquiries about their medical condition or religious beliefs, including a requirement to receive letters from pastors.
Chicago-based United in a statement said the lawsuit was merit-free, and that it has seen an overwhelmingly positive response from employees since announcing their vaccine claim last month. More than 97% of United's US employees in the United States are vaccinated, the airline said.
The trial highlights the tough legal issues employers face when demanding vaccinations, and comes as President Joe Biden tries to require companies with 1
The plaintiffs on Wednesday asked the court to temporarily prevent the execution of United's mandate for employees requesting exemptions. United has demanded that workers receive at least the first dose of a vaccine by September 27 or be fired, according to the lawsuit.
The airline has already faced a separate legal challenge for its vaccine mandate, which was dismissed by a U.S. judge in Florida last week. The judge said the trial was not properly filed.
Plaintiffs in Tuesday's lawsuit say that United only gave employees until August 31 to request religious or medical exemptions from the vaccine requirement and that they have automatically denied requests submitted after that deadline.
They accused United of violating federal laws prohibiting discrimination on the grounds of religion and disability.
The workers are trying to represent a nationwide class that they said would likely include more than 2,000 United employees.