Federal Judge Issues Restraining Order Against United Airlines in Vaccine Mandate Class Action

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United Airlines planes are parked at George Bush International Airport in Houston, Texas on June 10, 2020. A federal judge has issued a Temporary Restraining Order against the airline, preventing it from placing staff who have received a medical or religious exemption on indefinite unpaid leave as the court weighs a motion to dismiss arguing jurisdiction.
United Airlines planes are parked at George Bush International Airport in Houston, Texas on June 10, 2020. A federal judge has issued a Temporary Restraining Order against the airline, preventing it from placing staff who have received a medical or religious exemption on indefinite unpaid leave as the court weighs a motion to dismiss arguing jurisdiction. (Image: ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images)

A federal court judge overseeing a class action lawsuit has issued a restraining order against United Airlines, preventing the company from effectively denying religious and medical exemptions to employees.

The report comes as an exclusive from Breitbart News on Oct. 12, which states, “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.”

The article says United did not allow staff members to file for an exemption after Aug. 31. 

Breitbart says it has obtained a copy of the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) issued in the case. However, the link provided in the article is dead.

On Sept. 25, United had volunteered to postpone the force of its vaccine mandate against those holding exemptions, originally set to go into force on Sept. 27, until Oct. 15. The mandate subjected those who had received an exemption to indefinite unpaid leave in place of termination.

Plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit argued that “indefinite unpaid leave is not a reasonable accommodation. Instead, indefinite unpaid leave is an adverse employment action,” in court filings.

Breitbart says the airline submitted a partial Motion to Dismiss on Oct. 8, arguing the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas lacked jurisdiction to hear the case.

The outlet says the court signed its TRO in response to the Motion “In order to allow the court reasonable time to respond to the jurisdictional challenge and to rule in the evidentiary hearing for a preliminary injunction.”

A Sept. 22 article by The Hill said United had claimed in a memo that as much as 97 percent of its 67,000 U.S. staff members had accepted the COVID injection. The class action, however, represents at least 2,000 people.

No breathing room

Breitbart also says in the article that they obtained a copy of an Oct. 2 memo where United Airlines has required their unvaccinated employees who are still on the job to wear a N95 (U.S. specification) or KN95 (China specification) medical respirator, instead of a cloth or medical mask, at all times, including between “bites and sips” at meals.

The memo is quoted as saying, “You must wear your mask at all times in all United locations, including outdoors and on aircraft (this includes for personal or business travel). You may remove your mask only when you are actively eating or drinking and you must put your mask back on in between bites and sips.” 

“To the extent possible, please only eat or drink outdoors or in rooms alone or when socially distanced from others. Failure to comply with this mask requirement is subject to disciplinary action as outlined in the mask policy in the Working Together Guidelines.”

The article claims, based on accounts from “a United Airlines employee with knowledge of the situation” that “several employees have allegedly suffered health issues and have even been badly injured” as a result of the medical respirator mandate, including examples such as:

An agent with the company allegedly fainted, which resulted in a broken clavicle, a torn rotator cuff, and a torn meniscus.

A flight attendant allegedly fainted and fell into a jump seat

A baggage handler working in extreme heat (up to 120 degrees) in an aircraft belly allegedly passed out and fell face first on a belt loader, suffering additional injuries.

An agent allegedly fainted while in an office. Paramedics were called and had to cut the respirator off the employee’s face.

Victory in New York

The same day, a federal judge ruled the New York State Department of Health must acknowledge religious exemptions. In the case, Plaintiffs argue their religious beliefs are violated on the basis of the use of aborted fetal cell tissue in the development of the new generation of gene-therapy vaccines.

That fact was confirmed on Oct. 6 when investigative journalist team Project Veritas published an email chain they received from Pfizer executives admitting that Human Embryonic Kidney cell lines from an aborted fetus were used in the development of their mRNA vaccine.

The New York Order concluded, “The question presented by this case is not whether plaintiffs and other individuals are entitled to a religious exemption from the State’s workplace vaccination requirement. Instead, the question is whether the State’s summary imposition of § 2.61 conflicts with plaintiffs’ and other individuals’  federally protected right to seek a religious accommodation from their individual employers.”

“The answer to this question is clearly yes.  Plaintiffs have established  that § 2.61 conflicts with longstanding federal protections for religious beliefs and that they and others will suffer irreparable harm in the absence of  injunctive relief.”

  • Neil lives in Canada and writes about society and politics.