United Airlines will allow unvaccinated workers with religious or medical exemptions from the company’s Covid-19 vaccine mandate who have been on unpaid leave to return to their jobs as of March 28, The Wall Street Journal reported.
United CEO Scott Kirby on Aug. 6 became one of the first large-company chief executives to announce a vaccine requirement for employees, which earned him a spot on BTN’s 2021 list of the 25 Most Influentialpeople in business travel. “I’m particularly grateful that because of our vaccine requirement, we are no longer losing vaccinated employees to Covid, and we still do not have any vaccinated employees hospitalized,” Kirby said during a January earnings call. “Our vaccine requirement has truly saved lives.”
After the initial mandate, the company said that about 200 workers who did not comply with the mandate were terminated, and about 2,200 were put on unpaid leave because of their religious or medical exemptions, according to the report. The 200 fired employees would not be rehired, and newly hired workers still will be required to be vaccinated.
The move could still be reversed if conditions change, as United plans to re-evaluate every 30 days case level rates and levels of community Covid-19 transmission to decide when to allow unvaccinated workers to return to work, according to the report.
The mandate resulted in a lawsuit brought in September by employees who had been placed on unpaid leave. In mid-February, the New Orleans-based Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered a new review by a U.S. district judge in Texas who had rejected a request for an injunction blocking the mandate while employees argued their case against it, according to Reuters.
United did not immediately respond to a request for comment.