As several employers and the federal government encourage individuals to take the COVID-19 vaccination to help decrease the spread of the virus, some United Airlines employees aren’t on the same page and are against taking the vaccine. As a result, this is putting their livelihood at risk. As 99 percent of United’s workforce has provided proof of vaccination, they have been forced to make a tough decision for the remaining less than one percent of unvaccinated employees.
According to The Hill, United announced today that they would begin the process of laying off roughly 600 employees for failing to comply with their COVID-19 vaccine mandate. United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby and President Brett Hart wrote in a memo to employees, “This was an incredibly difficult decision, but keeping our team safe has always been our first priority.” Although the decision is final, the employees aren’t going out without a fight.
Of the percentage of vaccinated United employees, which excludes the employees who sought a religious or medical exemption, six have filed a lawsuit against the airline last week. The reason for the suit is over United’s policy to put exempt employees on unpaid leave. However, it doesn’t seem that United is too worried. Reports state that the company has received a lot of applicants after they announced their vaccine requirement. United says that prospective applicants want to work in a safe environment.
United is the only U.S. airline to terminate employees who do not comply with its vaccine requirement. Delta Air Lines decided against layoffs but enacted a $200 monthly surcharge for unvaccinated employees, while American Airlines and Southwest Airlines only encourage their employees to receive the vaccination. United employees will have a final chance to comply with the mandate during the separation process before they’re officially terminated.
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