(LifeSiteNews) — United Airlines agreed Friday to postpone enforcement of its mandate that employees take one of the COVID-19 vaccines, allowing business to continue as normal while the company better prepares its legal arguments to justify the policy.
United previously told its 67,000 employees that they had until October 2 to get vaccinated, with those who remain unvaccinated for recognized medical reasons being put on “temporary, medical leave” until new policies are established for unvaccinated employees, and workers with religious exemptions placed on indefinite unpaid leave. All others would simply be fired.
In response, eighteen pilots sued in Florida for a temporary restraining order against the “unconscionable ultimatum,” which they say puts them at a “particular, significant risk of harm with enhanced possibility of heart failure and clotting working at high altitudes that transport numerous souls aboard their aircraft who entrust the pilots to fly them safely to their destinations on a daily basis.” Another group of six employees filed a similar suit in Texas.
Breitbart reports that United has responded by delaying implementation of the mandate to October 15, at which point a federal judge will hold hearings in the matter. The move gives both sides more time to prepare their arguments.
“We are pleased that under a threat of a Temporary Restraining Order, United Airlines postponed its heartless and unlawful vaccine mandate that would impose on approximately 2,000 employees the unconscionable choice of violating their religious faith, violating their doctors’ orders, or essentially losing their job,” said attorney Mark Paoletta, who represents the six plaintiffs of the second suit.
“United’s actions have left Plaintiffs 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,” the complaint argues, alleging that United “has violated Title VII [of the 1964 Civil Rights Act] and the [Americans with Disabilities Act] by failing to engage in the interactive process and provide reasonable accommodations, and also by retaliating against employees who engaged in protected activity.” It further argues that “indefinite unpaid leave is not a reasonable accommodation. Instead, indefinite unpaid leave is an adverse employment action.”
A United spokesperson responded by calling the complaint “without merit,” stressing that “excluding the small number of people who have sought an exemption, more than 97% of our U.S. employees are vaccinated” and claiming to have seen an “overwhelmingly positive response from employees across all work groups” to the mandate.
The plaintiffs’ complaint notes that airline pilots have specialized medical circumstances, including elevated risks of blood clotting.
“Their personal physicians — medical specialists who know these patients best and have their best interests at heart — have advised them not to take the vaccine, at least not until research proves it is safe for their condition,” Paoletta explained. “Personal medical decisions should be made in consultation with healthcare providers, and no one should ever need to violate their doctor’s orders to keep their job.”
Many continue to harbor concerns that the COVID vaccines have not been sufficiently studied for negative effects given their accelerated clinical trials. Vaccine defenders note that the one-year development period was not starting from scratch, but rather relied on years of prior research into mRNA technology; and that one of the innovations of the Trump administration’s “Operation Warp Speed” was conducting various aspects of the development process concurrently rather than sequentially, eliminating delays unrelated to safety. However, those factors do not fully account for the condensing of clinical trial phases — each of which can take anywhere from 1–3 years on their own — to just three months apiece.
While cases of severe harm reported to the federal Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS) after taking COVID shots represent less than one percent of total doses administered in the United States, a 2010 report submitted to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ (HHS) Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) warned that VAERS caught “fewer than 1% of vaccine adverse events.” On the problem of underreporting, the VAERS website offers simply that “more serious and unexpected medical events are probably more likely to be reported than minor ones” (emphasis added).
In May, NBC News published a report acknowledging experts’ concerns about “gaps” in federal monitoring of the COVID vaccines. While the government currently relies on a “hodgepodge” of sources for safety data, the report explained, the quoted experts call for a more “robust ‘active’ surveillance system [that] can search large volumes of patient care records to compare rates of adverse events in people who received vaccines with those who didn’t.”
Such concerns were intensified last week by a Project Veritas report showing insiders at Phoenix Indian Medical Center, a federal facility, speaking candidly about serious medical complications they’ve seen after COVID vaccination that are not being reported. Acknowledging the COVID vaccines’ potential dangers would severely undermine the Biden administration’s heavy investment in the idea that the vaccines are the key to ending the pandemic.