United Airlines employees granted religious exemptions from vaccine mandate will be put on unpaid leave

Caroline Champlin Sep 10, 2021
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A United Airlines plane. United Airlines via Getty Images

United Airlines employees granted religious exemptions from vaccine mandate will be put on unpaid leave

Caroline Champlin Sep 10, 2021
Heard on:
A United Airlines plane. United Airlines via Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

United Airlines announced this week that employees exempt from the company’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate for religious reasons will be put on temporary unpaid leave.

The policy will likely be challenged in court, according to UC Hastings law professor Dorit Reiss.

“It’s not exactly firing the people who have religious objections. But it’s a very serious sanction on them,” Reiss said, adding that courts would likely look to see if United was reasonably accommodating to these employees.  

And, the risk to customers and staff would also be considered.

Yale health policy professor Jason Schwartz said considering the COVID-19 delta variant, the policy is an understandable revision to the company’s original mandate.

“Air travel is such a vehicle from areas where there’s high transmission to areas of low transmission,” he said.

This is the strictest mandate that Laura Boudreau with Columbia Business School has seen so far.

“This will be another kind of potential turning point. And in terms of how far we’ll expect to see other employers go with with their policies,” she said.

She said the future of individual airlines could come down to the success of their policies.

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