United Airlines set to fire nearly 600 for refusing to take COVID-19 vaccine

United Airlines has begun the process to fire 593 employees who refused to get the COVID-19 vaccine after the company made it mandatory for its more than 67,000 employees, according to the Chicago Tribune.

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The Chicago-based airline reported Tuesday that more than 99% of its employees have complied with the vaccine rule. Tuesday was the company’s deadline to provide proof of vaccination.

“This is a historic achievement for our airline and our employees as well as for the customers and communities we serve,” United CEO Scott Kirby and president Brett Hart said in a memo to employees. “Our rationale for requiring the vaccine for all United’s U.S.-based employees was simple — to keep our people safe — and the truth is this: Everyone is safer when everyone is vaccinated, and vaccine requirements work.”

The company said that fewer than 3% of its workforce requested an exemption from the vaccine on religious or medical grounds. Six employees filed a lawsuit against United claiming it failed to provide reasonable accommodations for those seeing a medical or religious exemption.

According to the court filing, five of the employees who filed suit said the company granted their request for an exemption, offering them unpaid leave.

The sixth person said his request was “administratively denied.”

The company said the workers who refused vaccines can still save their jobs if they get vaccinated before their official termination meetings, airline officials said Tuesday.