Nov 9, 2021 - Economy & Business

United can impose vaccine mandate, federal judge rules

United Airlines planes are seen at Newark International Airport in New Jersey, United States on September 29
Photo: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

United Airlines can uphold its COVID-19 vaccine mandate that places on unpaid leave employees who have been granted a medical or religious exemption, a federal judge ruled Monday, per Reuters.

Details: U.S. District Judge Mark Pittman noted in his ruling in Fort Worth, Texas, that it was a human resources matter and that no airline staff member was required to get the vaccine, according to Reuters.

  • "[I]t is not for the Court to decide if United's vaccine mandate is bad policy," Pittman said, per CNBC.
  • "Rather, it is the Court’s role to determine if Plaintiffs carried their burden to obtain a preliminary injunction," added Pittman in rejecting the lawsuit brought by six United employees.

The big picture: United said in September that more than 97% of its U.S.-based employees had been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.

  • The plaintiffs alleged United is legally obligated to accommodate exempt workers and said they stand to lose seniority and other benefits if placed on leave, per Reuters.
  • The airline said in an emailed statement that some 2,000 staff members who were granted religious or medical exemptions could apply for "non-customer facing roles." Those who don't will be placed on leave.

Go deeper: United CEO: Mandating COVID vaccine was a no-brainer

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