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United Airlines (UAL) to Sack Workers on Vaccine Refusal Grounds

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In line with its objective of getting its employees vaccinated and promoting safety, United Airlines (UAL - Free Report) intends to show the door to its 593 workers who defied the company’s vaccine mandate. The Chicago-based carrier’s CEO Scott Kirby announced the vaccine policy on Aug 6 in a bid to protect staff and passengers.

The aforementioned 593 employees had refused to get vaccinated against the dreaded COVID-19. They had not even applied for exemption from getting jabbed on medical or religious grounds. On the decision to fire the errant employees, Kirby and president Brett Hart said in a memo that “This was an incredibly difficult decision but keeping our team safe has always been our first priority”. However, around 2,000 of the carrier’s total workforce of 67,000 in the United States requested for immunity from action for not getting vaccinated.

They cited medical or religious reasons for avoiding the shots. Management at United Airlines, currently carrying a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold), intends to examine those requests by Oct 15, 2021. Those whose requests are accepted will be put on unpaid leave from that date. Initially, United Airlines had planned to send those employees on unpaid leave from Oct 2.

The carrier was forced to extend the date to Oct 15 after six of its employees filed a lawsuit, alleging that the carrier’s vaccine mandate did not grant exemptions to employees on medical and religious grounds. In the lawsuit, it is alleged that the company's vaccination policy offers no alternative to masking up, periodic testing or social distancing.

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To counter the rapid spread of the Delta variant of the coronavirus in the United States, other U.S.-based carriers are also actively getting their employees vaccinated. Evidently, Delta Air Lines (DAL - Free Report) stated recently that its 82% employees are already vaccinated. The FDA’s decision to grant full approval to Pfizer (PFE - Free Report) /BioNTech’s (BNTX - Free Report) coronavirus vaccine for individuals aged 16 years and above is aimed at ramping up the pace of vaccination in the country.