Chicago-based carrier United Airlines will allow unvaccinated employees to return to work by March 28. United was the first U.S. airline to mandate the Covid-19 vaccine.
According to a Thursday memo obtained by The Epoch Times, the vice president of human resources at United Kirk Limacher noted the policy change came after a drop in Covid-19 cases and related hospitalizations across the country. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) decision to ease its mask mandate earlier this month influenced the airline’s decision.
“These changes suggest that the pandemic is beginning to meaningfully recede.” Limacher wrote. “As a result, we’re confident we can safely begin the process of returning our RAP employees to their jobs.”
Limacher further claimed workers with approved exemptions would receive a notice with instructions to return to work.
United Airlines issued a company-wide vaccine mandate last year, leading to the termination of more than 200 workers refusing the vaccine. Although the company allowed employees to apply for religious or medical exemptions, it placed many of those workers seeking exemptions on unpaid leave, according to Reuters.
However, United’s mandate prompted a lawsuit from employees seeking exemptions. In February, a federal court ruled that the airline’s mandate was “actively coercing employees to abandon their convictions.”
In an email to The Epoch Times, the attorney representing the plaintiffs celebrated United’s recent decision saying, “Hopefully people are beginning to see that individual rights should not be swept aside even during a pandemic.”