Airline purging hundreds of employees for refusing to get vaccinated

United Airlines is in the process of firing more than 230 employees that refused to get vaccinated against the coronavirus by the carrier’s deadline. 

As part of the airline’s comprehensive policy, about 67,000 U.S.-based faced a Sept. 27 deadline for getting vaccinated or risk losing their job – barring some exemptions. 

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United CEO Scott Kirby and President Brett Hart told employees in a joint memo that more than 99% of its U.S.-based employees, aside from those who submitted for accommodation, have been vaccinated since the airline rolled out its policy on Aug. 6. 

Originally, the airline had 600 employees who did not comply with the policy, but the number has since trickled now down to 232, according to United.  

United Airlines Pilot

A United Airlines pilot wears a face mask as he walks to a gate at George Bush Intercontinental Airport Sunday, May 24, 2020, in Houston.  (AP Photo/David J. Phillip / AP Newsroom)

“For the less than 1% of people who decided to not get vaccinated, we’ll, unfortunately, begin the process of separation from the airline per our policy,” the memo read. 

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Kirby and Brett said that although it was an incredibly difficult decision, it was done out of a matter of safety. 

“The pandemic is now killing more than 2,000 people per day – a 65% increase in just the past 30 days – and the most effective way to keep our people safe, is to make sure they’re vaccinated,” the memo continued. 

Chicago-based United has taken the strongest pro-vaccination stance among U.S. airlines and claims to have rolled out one of the most comprehensive vaccine policies in the country. 

Each employee was required to send an image of their vaccine card to the company. Those who didn’t were told they would be terminated unless they were granted a religious or medical exemption. 

UNITED AIRLINES READY TO FIRE WORKERS FOR DEFYING VACCINE MANDATE

Those who were given an exemption would be placed on leave as of Oct. 2, until the airline puts additional safety mitigation measures in place. 

However, in lieu of a pending court case, that deadline has been extended, although it was not immediately clear when that deadline is. 

“For a number of our employees who were approved for an accommodation, we’re working to put options in place that reduce the risk to their health and safety, including new testing regimens, temporary job reassignments and masking protocols,” the airline said. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

This article first appeared on Airline News, global aviation community’s primary source of news, data, insight, knowledge and expertise.

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