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How United Airlines is dealing with staff members with vaccine religious exemptions

Some United Airlines staff members will face unpaid leave now

United Airlines employees work at ticket counters at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago.
United Airlines employees work at ticket counters in Terminal 1 at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, on Oct. 14, 2020.
Nam Y. Huh, Associated Press

United Airlines announced Friday that staffers who are granted religious exemptions for the company’s new COVID-19 vaccination mandate will be put on temporary unpaid leave.

  • The unpaid leave shift begins on Oct. 2.

Who will get unpaid leave for United Airlines?

The rule will apply to all employees who receive an exemption — no matter what role they hold in the company. This will apply until “specific safety measures for unvaccinated employees are instituted,” the airline wrote.

  • (We) can no longer allow unvaccinated people back into the workplace until we better understand how they might interact with our customers and their vaccinated co-workers,” the company said in a memo, according to CNBC.

Per CBS News, medical staffers — including nurses — will judge whether or not someone will receive a medical exemption for the vaccine. Requests for the religious exemptions are handled by office employees, though, according to CBS News.

Does United Airlines require vaccination?

In early August, United Airlines announced it would soon require its 67,000 employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19, as I wrote for the Deseret News.

  • At the time, United Airlines said employees could risk termination if they’re not vaccinated against the coronavirus, per CNBC.

Can you get a vaccine exemption because of religion?

Religious exemptions for the COVID-19 vaccine remain a hot topic right now because there are so many mandates starting to pop up, according to the Deseret News.

A recent Supreme Court ruling — which came in June through the Catholic foster care agency — said that officials can offer religious exemptions to laws that make other accommodations for workers. Mandates will fit that description.