United firing nearly 600 employees over vaccines

The Chicago-based airline set a Sept. 27 deadline for its vaccine mandate; 99% complied, but 593 employees will face termination for not getting vaccinated against COVID-19.

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United Airlines jets sit at gates at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago.

United Airlines is firing nearly 600 employees who chose not to be vaccinated.

Scott Olson/Getty Images file photo

Nearly 600 United Airlines employees are set to be fired for opting not to get vaccinated against COVID-19, the company announced in a memo sent to employees Tuesday.

In early August, Chicago-based United announced all U.S.-based employees must be vaccinated by Sept. 28, and 99% of the airline’s employees did so, according to the memo, sent from United CEO Scott Kirby and President Brett Hart.

But for the 593 employees who did not comply, United has “started the process to separate them from the company,” an airline spokesperson said in an email.

“This was an incredibly difficult decision,” executives said in the memo, “but keeping our team safe has always been our first priority.”

United extended the deadline for religious and medical accommodations because of a pending court case, according to the memo.

“This is a historic achievement for our airline and our employees as well as for the customers and communities we serve,” the memo said. “Our rationale for requiring the vaccine for all United’s U.S.-based employees was simple – to keep our people safe.”

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