A federal judge in Texas has issued a temporary order forcing United Airlines to pause its plan to place unvaccinated employees who sought a medical or religious exemption on leave, according to multiple media reports, including Business Insider.
United in August became the first airline to mandate that all its employees receive the COVID-19 vaccination.
A month later, six employees filed suit to block the mandate. U.S. District Judge Mark Pittman's order on Tuesday was in response to that lawsuit. United had threatened workers who did not comply with the vaccine mandate with termination, and those who sought the religious or medical exemption were placed on leave without pay.
The employees, which include two pilots and one flight attendant, accused the airline of discrimination against workers who requested accommodation, saying the policy violated the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Civil Rights Act, according to the lawsuit.
Pittman's restraining order, which expires on October 26, is only a temporary halt to United's policy while he hears more arguments on the case.
"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."
While the order is temporary, Mark Paoletta, the attorney for the six employees, said he is pleased with the judge's ruling.
"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," said Paoletta. "We look forward to our clients' rights be permanently protected."
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