A Texas judge has ruled in favor of United Airlines employees who brought suit against United for a "pattern of discrimination against employees who requested religious or medical accommodations."
"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," US District Judge Mark Pittman wrote in his ruling.
The restraining order makes it clear it isn’t ruling on the merits of argument by either party, but giving relief until the time of a later hearing. The order expires on October 26.
Attorney for the plaintiff Mark Paoletta said that "United Airlines' refusal to provide reasonable accommodations to its vaccine mandate violates the federal civil rights protections of our clients, the hard working men and women at United. We look forward to our clients’ rights be permanently protected."
About 2,000 employees pursued religious or medical exemptions from vaccine requirements at United Airlines. Company CEO Scott Kirby told CBS on Wednesday that 232 members of the 67,000 workforce will be terminated because they are neither vaccinated nor have filed for an exemption.
Kirby said that he made the decision to enact a mandate after he learned that two pilots had died from COVID.
"Vaccine requirements work and nearly all of United's US employees have chosen to get a shot," United Airlines said per CNN. "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."
Widespread delays and cancellations for Southwest flights from October 8 through 11 caused a social media uproar, with many saying that this was due to vaccine requirements. That speculation, buoyed by a lawsuit filed by Southwest pilots on Friday, was contradicted by Southwest's CEO who blamed the outages on "absenteeism."
Texas Governor Abbott issued an executive order barring private businesses from enacting COVID vaccine mandates. The Biden administration is set to issue new regulations via OSHA and the Labor Department for vaccine requirements applicable to all US businesses with over 100 employees.
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