CHICAGO, Illinois: Less than a week before its staff vaccination deadline, United Airlines announced that more than 97 percent of its U.S.-based employees are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
This figure does not include those employees who are seeking a medical or religious exemption from vaccinations, United said on Wednesday, stressing that "vaccine requirements work," in a memo to employees.
Meanwhile, six staff members sued the Chicago-based airline in federal district court in Fort Worth, Texas this week claiming discrimination, as they were granted exemptions from the vaccine mandate but were placed on unpaid leave.
United was "reviewing this complaint in greater detail, but at this point we think it is without merit," responded spokeswoman Leslie Scott.
In August, 90 percent of pilots and nearly 80 percent of flight attendants were vaccinated, the airline noted, without announcing the figure for all U.S. employees.
It added that it will begin the termination process against unvaccinated staff and those without exemptions as early as next Tuesday.
After President Joe Biden issued an executive order requiring staff vaccinations or weekly testing for employers with more than 100 workers, United and a small group of companies announced they would require vaccinations before 9th September.
Last month, United set a deadline of 27th September for its 67,000 U.S.-based employees to be vaccinated or face termination, but those who are unsuccessful in receiving an exemption could obtain five extra weeks to comply.
United did not state the exact number of workers who have asked for an exemption or how many requests were approved.
Exempted staff will be placed on leave from 2nd October. While some may return if they wear masks and are tested weekly, there is no confirmation of when they can come back to work.