FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) – A federal judge has extended a ban on United Airlines putting employees on unpaid leave for requesting a medical or religious exemption from the airline’s requirement to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
Federal District Judge Mark Pittman in Fort Worth, Texas, granted a restraining order Tuesday in favor of employees suing the airline over the mandate.
Attorneys for the employees and the airline agreed last month that United would not put the workers on leave without pay, but the judge wrote that the agreement will expire before it can rule on the merits of the matter. That would leave “hundreds of workers” at risk of being put on indefinite leave without pay or required to receive a vaccine that violates their religious beliefs or medical restrictions.
The restraining order expires October 26.
The plaintiffs are seeking to turn the case into a class action lawsuit. United says that about 2,000 of its 67,000 American employees applied for immunization exemptions.
A United spokeswoman said Wednesday that the company was working with vaccine-exempt employees on safety measures including tests, face masks and temporary job reassignments.
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