A federal judge in the state of Texas has given a temporary restraining order on United Airlines this Wednesday, stopping the airline from enforcing a vaccine mandate on its employees in a national lawsuit.
According to the new order, which might be the first in the nation against a vaccine mandate, United Airlines is stopped from putting employees with medical and religious exemptions on unpaid leave until Oct. 26 while litigation goes on. The judge also stopped the airline from preventing any employee requests for medical or religious exemptions. Previously, the airline would not allow employees to apply to be exempted after Aug. 31.
Earlier in the legal case, the airline said it would postpone its mandate until Oct. 15 for employees with exemptions during the legal case. The day before the Oct. 8 hearing, however, United filed a motion to dismiss, saying the court lacked jurisdiction. This was to allow the court time to reply to this challenge and to decide in the evidentiary hearing on the preliminary injunction, which was rescheduled for Wednesday, the judge gave the TRO.
United Airlines originally said to its 67,000 employees they should get vaccinated against covid-19 (or get an exemption) by Sept. 27 or be fired. As the airline’s mandate says, any employees with exemptions would still be thought to be employed but would be put on unpaid leave and lose benefits for as much as six years or until the company deems covid conditions safe for unvaccinated people to come back, according to this complaint.
“It is not conscionable to force anyone to undergo a treatment that they are against as an act of faith,” said Ken Blackwell, the former U.S. Ambassador to the UN Human Rights Commission and currently with the ACLU.
“When so many other countries recognize there is no medical reason for people who have natural immunity to get the vaccine, it is crucial that America lead to guard our citizens’ rights also.”
The lawsuit, which D.C. law firm Schaerr Jaffe issued in District Court for the Texas Northern District in Sept., represents up to 2,000 employees of United Airlines.
“The Court now concludes it is needed to give this Temporary Restraining Order to prevent risking irreparable harm and to keep the status quo in this case until the hearing and ruling on the Plaintiffs’ Motion for Preliminary Injunction,” Pittman said, noting his order is not an official ruling on the real legality of the vaccine mandate.
Author: Steven Sinclaire