According to a federal court in Texas, United Airlines’ intention to place workers on administrative leave if they seek an exemption from the company’s Covid vaccination requirement has been temporarily halted. Citing religious or medical reasons, about 2,000 out of 67,000 US United workers, or fewer than 3 percent, petitioned for an exception from the mandatory overtime requirement.

Although their medical exemptions requests were approved, United stated the employees would be put on medical leave, which might or might not include a part of their wages depending on the terms of their union contract. 

Workers Seeking Exemptions Will Have Their Requests Put On Hold

In the event that employees’ petitions for religious exemptions are approved, they will be put on indefinite unpaid leave. However, they will maintain existing seniority rights should they return to the business at some undetermined point in the foreseeable future.

Six of the workers who had sought a religious and medical exemption, or even both, filed a federal lawsuit last month in an attempt to save their jobs despite the threat of being put on administrative leave.

Workers Seeking Exemptions Will Have Their Requests Put On Hold

On these issues, Pittman stated in his decision that “the court is not presently deciding on the merit of the parties’ claims.” “Rather, the court wants to prevent the possibility of irreparable damage to the parties and to preserve the status quo whereas the court conducts an evidentiary hearing,” the court writes.

According to United Airlines (UAL), just 232 workers out of 67,000 US staff members will be terminated if they do not get the required vaccination by the September 28 timeframe to comply with the regulation.

This is about one-third of one percent of the company’s total workforce, a reduction from an earlier estimate of over 600 unvaccinated workers. There are no unvaccinated workers involved in the lawsuit, and those who did not request an exemption are still risking firing.

In a statement, Mark Paoletta, an attorney representing the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, expressed gratitude for the decision, even if it was only temporary.

According to Paoletta, “United Airlines’ failure to provide reasonable adjustments to comply with its vaccination requirement violates its federal civil rights laws afforded to our clients, the hardworking men, and women who work for United.” “We look to see the day when the rights of our customers are permanently safeguarded.”

An official statement from United was made in support of its vaccination requirement.

In order to comply with planned federal regulations mandating vaccinations for all workers of federal government contractors, two major airlines, Southwest (LUV) and American Airlines (AAL) have said that they are seeking to impose their own vaccine requirements on US employees.

The pilots’ unions at those two airlines, on the other hand, are opposed to the mandates.

On the same day that the decision was announced, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed an order banning businesses in the state from forcing their workers to get a flu shot. Despite the fact that both Americans and Southwest think federal rules have more legal power than any state rule, both companies say they will proceed with their vaccination requirements.