U.S. federal court denies injunction against United vaccine mandate

A Texas U.S. District Court judge on Monday ruled against six United Airlines employees seeking to block the carrier’s Covid-19 vaccine mandate.

The employees, which included a pilot and a flight attendant, asked for an injunction against United’s policy of putting employees who receive medical or religious exemptions on unpaid leave. In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Mark Pittman said he was “disturbed by United’s seemingly calloused approach to its employees’ deeply personal concerns” but that “it is not for the Court to decide if United’s vaccine mandate is bad policy.” The employees did not show they would face “imminent, irreparable injury absent an injunction,” he said.

United’s victory comes as more than half of the states have sued the federal government regarding vaccine and testing requirements set forth by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. United issued its mandate before the federal requirements were set and in recent weeks reported that 99.7% of its U.S.-based employees have opted to be vaccinated.

Of those requesting exemptions, United approved 80% of requests for religious exemptions and 63% of requests for medical exemptions, according to Pittman’s ruling.

Other U.S. carriers, meanwhile, are implementing mandates to be in line with federal requirements, so those will likely to be dependent on whether those requirements hold up in court. American Airlines, for example, last week extended its vaccination deadline for employees from Dec. 8 to Jan. 4, in line with an extension for the mandate for federal contractors.

As federal contractors, airline vaccination mandates do not include a regular testing option for employees included in the OSHA requirements.

United in a statement said it was “pleased” with the decision and is “working to identify non-customer facing roles where accommodated employees can apply and continue working until it is safe for them to their return to their current positions.”

Source: Business Travel News

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