A federal judge extended the ban on United Airlines putting employees on paid leave for seeking exemptions to the airline's vaccine requirement.
On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Mark Pittman ordered United to pause its plans to put unvaccinated employees on paid leave after the company announced in August that all United employees would be required to get a vaccine and that any workers who requested religious or medical exemptions would be placed on indefinite leaves of absence.
"The Court now concludes it is necessary to issue this Temporary Restraining Order to avoid risking irreparable injury and to maintain the status quo in this case pending the Court's hearing and resolution of Plaintiffs' Motion for Preliminary Injunction," Pittman wrote.
A United Airlines spokesperson defended the company's mandate, saying it was successful in urging most employees to get the shot.
"Vaccine requirements work, and nearly all of United's U.S. employees have chosen to get a shot." a United Airlines spokesperson told the Washington Examiner. "For a number of our employees who were approved for an accommodation, we're working to put options in place that reduce the risk to their health and safety, including new testing regimens, temporary job reassignments, and masking protocols."
Six employees filed a federal lawsuit against the airline last month in response to the mandate, arguing that the company failed to provide "reasonable accommodations" for those who do not desire a vaccine and that United's decision violated the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Civil Rights Act.
Although he implemented the temporary restraining order, the judge insisted that the decision was not final.
"The court is not currently ruling on the merits of the parties' arguments on these points," Pittman wrote in his order. "Rather the court seeks simply to avoid the risk of irreparable harm to the parties and to maintain the status quo while the court holds an evidentiary hearing."
The order will expire on Oct. 26.
At least 593 of United's 67,000 employees were at risk of termination due to not being vaccinated as of Sept. 28.
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Original Author: Christopher Hutton
Original Location: Judge blocks United Airlines from suspending employees over vaccine mandate