September 22, 2021

Statement from Attorneys Representing Plaintiffs in United Airlines COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate Exemptions Case

Statement from Mark Paoletta, a partner at Schaerr|Jaffe LLP, and John Sullivan, a partner at S/L Law, who are representing the plaintiffs seeking religious and medical exemptions to United Airlines’ COVID-19 vaccine mandate: 

We filed this lawsuit to protect the rights of honest, hardworking United Airlines employees who have religious or medical reasons not to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. United has refused to grant any accommodations and these employees are scared by United’s draconian mandate that forces them to either get the vaccine or lose their job. That’s unacceptable in America.

This is not about how effective the vaccines are or whether United may mandate vaccination. The fact is that some people have sincere religious objections to the COVID-19 vaccine, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 requires employers to respect and accommodate those beliefs. United has failed to do this. It’s especially outrageous that United refuses to grant meaningful religious exemptions to employees who have already suffered from a COVID infection and can prove that they are immune — and unable to infect others — by virtue of the resulting antibodies.

Some United employees also have special medical conditions. 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. 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. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) provides robust protections for such people. Corporate employers violate those protections at their peril.

Employees of United Airlines with questions about religious or medical accommodation requests may find additional information at