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United Airlines allows unvaccinated employees to return

With the decline of COVID cases, United Airlines is allowing medically exempt unvaccinated employees to return to work.

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A United Airlines jetliner.

A United Airlines jetliner lifts off from a runway at Denver International Airport as travelers deal with the effects of the new coronavirus Wednesday, June 10, 2020, in Denver.

David Zalubowski, Associated Press

About 2,200 unvaccinated employees will soon be allowed to return to their jobs at United Airlines beginning on March 28, according to Reuters.

The news: Employees who had reasonable accommodations to not receive the COVID-19 vaccine will be allowed to return to the airline.

  • Out of the 67,000 total employees of the time, about 200 did not comply with the airline’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate and were let go from their jobs. These employees will not be rehired.
  • More than 97% of the company’s employees have received the COVID-19 vaccine, according to CNBC.

A look back: In February, employees took the airline to court, stating that the vaccine mandate will cause them “irreparable harm,” according to The Associated Press.

  • The court rejected this claim, and United Airlines was allowed to uphold the mandate, according to The Associated Press.
  • The unvaccinated employees who received a medical or religious exemption were placed on unpaid leave, according to Reuters.
  • Some unvaccinated employees were moved from customer-facing jobs, meaning some flight attendants were unable to work their regular jobs, according to CNBC.

Why was the decision made?: Kirk Limacher, vice president of human relations for the company, told AP News that the airline is allowing employees to return because the amount of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths are expected to decrease in the future.

  • The company will continue to reevaluate the situation as COVID-19 trends change.
  • New employees of United Airlines are still required to be vaccinated, per AP News.