600 Unvaccinated United Employees At Risk Of Losing Jobs

As corporations in the United States continue to mandate that all staff get vaccinated, nearly 600 employees at United Airlines face losing their jobs after refusing to get the shot. Of all United Airlines’ American-based employees, 99% did not seek a medical exemption or refuse to be vaccinated because of their religious beliefs.

United Airlines Boeing 737 MAX
United plans to terminate unvaccinated workers. Photo: United Airlines

Following United Airlines’ Tuesday deadline for all employees to prove that they had been vaccinated for COVID-19, the 593 employees who refused to comply with the company mandate may now lose their jobs.

Everyone is safer when they are vaccinated

When speaking about why United wanted all its employees to be vaccinated in a company memo seen by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazzette, United CEO Scott Kirby and president Brett Hart said:

“This is a historic achievement for our airline and our employees as well as for the customers and communities we serve. Our rationale for requiring the vaccine for all United’s US-based employees was simple — to keep our people safe — and the truth is this: Everyone is safer when everyone is vaccinated, and vaccine requirements work.”

Scott Kirby
United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby says the mandate is to keep people safe. Photo: United Airlines

Of the airline’s 67,000 employees in the United States, less than 3% requested being exempt from vaccination due to medical or religious grounds. When announcing the mandatory vaccination program earlier in the month, United said that those who asked for exemptions would be placed on temporary leave. At the same time, United said that those employees whose requests were not accepted would have five weeks to get vaccinated or face termination.

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Six United workers filed a lawsuit

Six United Airlines employees had the deadline for being vaccinated pushed back after filing a lawsuit claiming United failed to help those seeking religious and medical exemptions.

According to the lawsuit filed in federal court in the Northern District of Texas, five employees said the airline granted their request but told them they would need to take unpaid leave. The sixth employee said he was told that his request was “administratively denied.
United said it would aim to resolve requests for help by October 15.

The airline had previously said that United staff working in roles where they interacted with customers who sought an exemption would be placed on leave until the pandemic had meaningfully receded. Those employees working in jobs where they did not come face to face with customers were told they could return to work after United developed protocols for safety and testing.

United employees who were granted medical exemptions will be placed on medical leave and will receive some compensation, while those granted exemptions on religious grounds would be on unpaid leave.

United has said that it is moving ahead with the 593 terminations but admits it could be fewer numbers if some employees change their minds and get vaccinated. While United may be losing employees due to their refusal to get vaccinated, the airline says it has seen an increase in people applying for jobs at the airline, noting:

“They were especially interested in career opportunities at United because of the vaccine requirement.”

600 Unvaccinated United Employees At Risk Of Losing Jobs
United says it is seeing increases in job applications because of its vaccination policy. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Currently, United is the only major American carrier mandating that all its employees get vaccinated. However, starting November 1, Delta Air Lines plans to charge unvaccinated employees on the company’s health plan a $200 surcharge each month.

Under a mandate issued earlier this month by President Joe Biden, all companies with more than 100 employees would be forced to have their staff vaccinated or tested weekly for COVID-19. A failure to do so would result in fines up to $14,000 for each violation.

Why are people in the US refusing to get vaccinated?

Taking away political considerations, religion, or ethnicity, 90% of Americans against getting vaccinated believe that the vaccine’s possible side effects could be worse than becoming infected with the coronavirus.

Others adhere to the following conspiracy theories:

  • The COVID-19 vaccine makes you magnetic
  • The COVID-19 vaccines are causing variants of the virus
  • The COVID-19 vaccine makes you infertile
  • The government has put a micro-chip in the vaccine so that they can track you
  • The COVID-19 vaccine causes autism
  • The COVID-19 vaccines are engineered to rewrite your DNA
  • The COVID-19 vaccine will cause long-term medical conditions

When speaking about vaccine hesitancy with Healthline, dean of New York Medical College School of Health Sciences and Practice and a former CDC chief medical officer, Dr. Robert Amler, says vaccines work:

“Through vaccination, smallpox has been eradicated worldwide. Through vaccination, polio has been eliminated from the Western Hemisphere, Europe, and Oceania, with only a few pockets left in a few countries. And through mass vaccination, COVID-19 rates have declined dramatically in the second quarter of 2021.

“We know what the safety profile is, and we know as we use more vaccines, cases are diminishing, hospitalizations are going down, and so are deaths, so that’s evidence that they really do work.”

United Airlines Boeing 787 Dreamliner
Other airlines will now tell their employees to get vaccinated. Photo: United Airlines

Given the government mandate that all companies with more than 100 employees must have their staff vaccinated, we will probably see more airlines following United’s lead.

Do you think United is right to terminate unvaccinated workers? Please tell us your thoughts in the comments.