US appeals court refuses to block United Airlines vaccine warrant

WASHINGTON, Dec. 14 (Reuters) – A divided U.S. appeals court has dismissed a request by six employees to prevent United Airlines (UAL.O) from enforcing a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for workers that requires time off without balance to those who are granted religious or religious rights. medical exceptions.

A panel of the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Court of Appeals voted 2-1 Monday night to dismiss the emergency request for an injunction blocking the warrant as employees appeal a ruling of November from a federal judge in favor of the airline.

The case is one of many legal battles over vaccine requirements imposed by companies and governments.

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United Airlines was the first major airline to issue a vaccine requirement, and more followed. United has granted approximately 2,000 religious and medical exemptions to employees in roles such as pilots, flight attendants and customer service agents.

A United spokesperson declined to comment on the 5th Homestay decision.

The dissenting member of the three-judge panel, Judge James Ho, sharply criticized the decision, writing that “vaccination warrants like the one United is trying to impose here present a crisis of conscience for many of faith.”

To hypothesize that the earthly reward of pecuniary damages could compensate for these deep challenges of faith is to misunderstand the whole nature of religious belief at its most fundamental level. And it is, that the mandate come from DC or the C-Suite, ”added Ho, who was appointed to the bench by former Republican President Donald Trump.

The majority of the 5th Circuit panel issued a two-sentence order rejecting the plaintiffs, citing the rationale put forward by U.S. District Judge Mark Pittman in Texas last month.

Pittman dismissed employees’ arguments that United had wrongly placed them in an “impossible position” by forcing them to choose to be vaccinated or face unpaid leave. Pittman criticized United’s approach to employees seeking religious exemptions, but ultimately said human resources policy belonged to a company and no employee was required to be vaccinated.

The plaintiffs in the case have raised religious objections to the vaccine. The six employees accused the company of employment discrimination and retaliation, claiming the airline violated a section of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by failing to provide reasonable religious accommodations.

Vaccination mandates have become a flashpoint in the United States, with many conservatives opposed. These warrants have typically been upheld by the courts, but the White House’s efforts to force large employers or federal contractors to set vaccine or testing requirements have been blocked by the courts.

United has said allowing unvaccinated employees into the workplace will jeopardize the safety of its flights amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Pittman noted that the company acknowledged there was almost no chance of COVID-19 outbreaks on its planes.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday dismissed challenges filed by a group of Christian doctors and nurses and an organization that promotes skepticism over New York’s refusal to allow religious exemptions from the state’s mandate that healthcare workers should be vaccinated against COVID-19.

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Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Will Dunham

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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