(LifeSiteNews) — Weeks after United Airlines announced it would place its unvaccinated employees on unpaid leave if they sought an exemption to the company’s COVID jab mandate, a federal judge has temporarily blocked the major airline from carrying out its threat.
The move has generated hope among opponents of coercive inoculation policies and contributes to a bevy of reports that airline industry employees have joined the ranks of those actively pushing back against vaccine mandates.
On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Mark Pittman, a Trump-nominee, issued a temporary restraining order against United Airlines, ordering it not to punish unvaccinated employees with unpaid leave for seeking to opt out of the COVID jab mandate.
The issue will be taken up again at the end of the month when oral arguments may be heard.
The temporary ruling came after six United employees filed a class action lawsuit against the company last month, arguing that its discriminatory policy violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
“A federal judge in Texas issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) against United Airlines on Wednesday, blocking the airline from imposing a vaccine mandate against any of its employees in a nationwide class-action lawsuit.” https://t.co/JEcyOxS2Xy
— Ned Ryun (@nedryun) October 13, 2021
In their lawsuit, the plaintiffs argue the company left them “with the impossible choice of either taking the COVID-19 vaccine, at the expense of their religious beliefs and their health, or losing their livelihoods.”
“In doing so, United has violated Title VII and the ADA by failing to engage in the interactive process and provide reasonable accommodations, and also by retaliating against employees who engaged in protected activity,” the suit states.
In an email to the Epoch Times, Mark Paoletta, an attorney representing the plaintiffs, said United’s “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.”
“We look forward to our clients’ rights being permanently protected,” Paoletta said.
As previously reported by LifeSite, United had announced in a three-page memo September 8 that any worker who had been granted a religious exemption would be placed on unpaid leave, while those granted medical exemptions would be placed on medical leave.
Roger Gannam, assistant vice president of legal affairs at Liberty Counsel, told the Epoch Times last month that the employee vaccine policy is the harshest his organization has seen thus far in the U.S.
“It certainly appears to be a bullying tactic and a continuation of United’s policy of making a religious exemption as difficult as possible,” Gannam said.
In a Tuesday report, Breitbart suggested the judge’s decision to block United from placing unvaccinated workers on unpaid leave “could be the first of its kind in the country.”
According to the outlet, “United Airlines is prohibited from placing employees with religious and medical exemptions on unpaid leave until October 26 while litigation continues.”
“The judge also prohibited the airline from denying any employee requests for religious or medical exemptions. Previously, the airline did not allow employees to apply for an exemption after August 31,” the report added.
Exclusive — Federal Judge Blocks United Airlines From Imposing Employee Vaccine Mandate https://t.co/7phZv0HmQM via @BreitbartNews
— Chris 🇺🇸 (@Chris_1791) October 13, 2021
The Epoch Times reported that United and the six plaintiffs in the lawsuit had reached an agreement during a September 24 hearing, whereby United said it would not place exempted employees on leave. The agreement, according to the outlet, “obviated the need for an immediate ruling.”
On October 8, Pittman planned to consider a motion for a preliminary injunction, but on October 7 just before the intended ruling United “filed a partial motion to dismiss, alleging the court lacked jurisdiction over some of the claims,” resulting in a new hearing being set for October 13.
According to the Epoch Times, “ahead of the arguments, Pittman said he concluded it was necessary to issue a temporary restraining order that is effective through Oct. 31.”
The legal wrangling over the legitimacy of vaccine mandates comes as a significant portion of the U.S. population has chosen not to take the experimental COVID-19 shot in spite of serious pressure and at times coercive action from governmental and private entities.
Many have opted not to take the jabs out of concern that they were rushed through production, lack long-term safety data, have been linked to hundreds of thousands of reported adverse reactions including myocarditis and blood clots, and have declined in reported efficacy since their roll-out earlier this year.
Additionally, many people have religious objections to getting jabbed due to the COVID inoculations’ close ties with abortion.
Both Moderna and Pfizer used cell lines derived from aborted babies for testing. Meanwhile J&J’s shot was directly produced in the human fetal cell line PER.C6, derived from retinal tissue taken from an 18-week-old baby boy who was aborted in the Netherlands in 1985 and converted into a fetal cell line in 1995.
News of the judge’s decision to prevent United Airlines from placing its unvaccinated employees on unpaid leave comes as airlines and their employees have increasingly made headlines.
Southwest Airlines grounded or delayed thousands of U.S. flights over the weekend, leading to rumors that the disruptions were caused by a mass protest by flight staff against coercive COVID vaccine mandates.
Thousands of Southwest Airlines flights have been cancelled, with some speculating it’s due to a protest against vaccination mandates.
— The Post Millennial (@TPostMillennial) October 10, 2021
Southwest originally named weather as one reason for the cancelations, but a lack of cancelations among other airlines and calm weather throughout the U.S. led to increased speculation that the delays and cancelations could be traced to a different cause.
Speaking to the media earlier this week, Southwest CEO Gary Kelly denied the disruptions were a result of protests against vaccine mandates and said the mandates had “zero” influence on the thousands of flights canceled last weekend.
Kelley said he has “never been in favour of corporations imposing that kind of a mandate,” and argued that “the executive order from President Biden mandates that all federal employees and then all federal contractors, which covers all the major airlines, have to have a [vaccine mandate] in place by December the 8th, so we’re working through that.”