United Airlines to Put Unvaccinated Workers With Religious Exemptions on Unpaid Leave

United Airlines workers who sought to be exempt from taking the COVID-19 vaccine for religious or medical reasons will be required to take a temporary leave of absence beginning next month.

Those whose exemption requests are denied will have until September 27, 2021, to get their first vaccine shot. Those who refuse will be terminated.

United Airlines Vice President of Human Resources, Kirk Limacher, sent a memo to employees.

“We have no greater responsibility to you and your colleagues than to ensure your safety when you’re at work, and the facts are crystal clear: everyone is safer when everyone is vaccinated,” United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby and President Brett Hart wrote in a memo to employees last month.

According to the memo, employees who receive religious exemptions will be put on voluntary unpaid leave, while those who receive medical exemptions will be placed on temporary medical leave.

The company is remaining tight-lipped about the number of employees that requested an exemption. Employees that have been approved for the exemption will not be allowed to work until the pandemic is near completion. The indefinite unpaid leave will start on October 2, 2021.

“Given the dire statistics listed above, we can no longer allow unvaccinated people back into the workplace until we better understand how they might interact with our customers and their vaccinated coworkers,” United Airlines wrote in a memo to employees.

“Once the pandemic meaningfully recedes, you will be welcomed back to the team on active status.”

According to a poll conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, 47% of workers in the United States are in favor of workplace vaccine requirements.

Businesses across the country are enacting vaccine requirements. Several airlines are enacting vaccine mandates for all their employees.

Delta Airlines is applying a $200 monthly surcharge to unvaccinated employees insured under the company’s health plan. American Airlines vows to cut off paid leave for workers that become infected with the deadly virus. Canadian WestJet Group announced on Wednesday that employees would be required to be fully vaccinated by October 30, 2021.

“Given there is an FDA-approved vaccine, pandemic leave will only be offered to team members who are fully vaccinated and who provide vaccination cards to us,” American Airlines said to its staff.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says that labor laws support businesses and the terms they set for their employees, including mandating the COVID-19 vaccine.

Data from Worldometers confirms that there have been 41,499,438 COVID-19 cases in the United States and a total of 672,641 deaths. 31,705,808 individuals have recovered from the virus.

The pandemic continues to loom over the country as new variants of the virus emerge. The delta variant is responsible for half of the new cases.


About RavenH

Raven Haywood is a journalist for 10+ years. Graduate from Howard University.

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