United Airlines announced weeks ago that it would put employees who were not vaccinated against COVID-19 on unpaid leave if they asked for an exemption to the company’s vaccine mandate. A federal judge in Texas issued a temporary restraining order on Tuesday that prohibits the airline from going through with the threatened move.
The ruling leads to renewed hope for opponents of vaccination mandates and adds to multiple reports of active resistance to mandates among workers in the air travel industry.
The restraining order was entered by the U.S. District Judge Mark Pittman of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas. Judge Pittman, who President Donald Trump appointed, ordered United Airlines not to punish unvaccinated employees who seek to opt-out of the company’s vaccine mandate. Judge Pittman is expected to conduct a hearing at the end of the month to hear additional oral arguments from the parties in the case.
The order comes as part of a class-action case filed by six airline employees in September that argues the company’s policy is unlawfully discriminatory under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The complaint filed by the plaintiffs argues that United left them with an impossible choice of either taking a vaccine against their religious beliefs and medical decisions or losing their way of making a living.
United’s policy announcement provided that any employee who sought a religious exemption to the mandate would be placed on leave without pay. Those seeking medical exemptions were to be placed on medical leave.
Liberty Counsel Assistant Vice President of Legal Affairs Roger Gannam said that the United Airlines vaccine mandate policy is the most oppressive his group has seen so far in the U.S. He added that the policy “certainly appears to be a bullying tactic” that would make receiving a religious exemption “as difficult as possible.”
Many Americans have decided not to take the vaccine because the drug was rushed through production and approval, has shown significant side effects, and has exhibited diminishing efficacy. Many others have objected to the vaccine’s use of fetal material and the development’s association with the abortion industry.
Other airlines have been making news as a result of vaccine mandate policies. Last weekend, Southwest Airlines was forced to cancel or delay thousands of domestic U.S. flights. Rumors abound that the problems resulted from a mass protest by staffers opposed to the company’s vaccine mandate.