On January 19, 2023, a group of former and current United Airlines employees filed a lawsuit against the mammoth corporation. The case is unique in the sense that the thirty plaintiffs are pursuing their rights to refuse the Covid-19 vaccines through both the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and genetic discrimination protection outlined by the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008.
The pandemic-era struggles of those who refused what some viewed as experimental therapy is a tired reel that seems to be stuck on repeat; last October, I covered a similar situation experienced by members of the Tennessee National Guard. Now, on the heels of President Biden’s announcement that he will end the national emergencies on May 11th, these United employees aren’t looking for reinstatement or reimbursement—they want to set the record straight.
CALL IT WHAT IT IS: GENE THERAPY
“We never wanted it to come to this. We never wanted to sue,” admitted plaintiff Thomas Anderson. Throughout the background outlined in the complaint, the vaccines are referred to as gene therapy. It goes on to further explain why referring to the products developed by Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech, and Johnson & Johnson as “vaccinations” is a misnomer. One of the more unique violations outlined in this case involves the Genetic Information Non-Disclosure Act (GINA). The act, which prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of genetic information, is both cited in the complaint and contingent on whether the Covid vaccines are considered different from every other required vaccination. The plaintiffs’ view is made clear by Anderson: “This is gene therapy. It’s been shown—and medically proven—to alter your DNA for the purpose of what it’s designed for.”
If this case comes out in favor of the plaintiffs, the distinction between vaccinations and gene therapy may affect future efforts to market or mandate vaccines or other therapeutic treatments. Up until September 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) described vaccines as “producing immunity.” The term immunity has since been swapped for protection: which, according to plaintiff Tom Floyd, is a convenient change-up, an easy switch to accommodate these experimental inoculations: “They don’t prevent you from getting it, they don’t prevent you from spreading it, they don’t prevent you from dying from it, and they don’t last.” Even Bill Gates has admitted this, stating that the vaccines are “not infection-blocking. . . not broad, and have a very short duration.”
TAKING ON THE GIANT
The lawsuit also cites Title VII Civil Rights violations, claiming that the non-compliant United employees were subject to religious discrimination. “We believe that religion is a valid objection to taking this gene therapy,” explained Floyd. By bringing this case to court, the plaintiffs aren’t just going up against a corporate giant with deep pockets, but one partially controlled by the vested interests of the US government. During our interview, Floyd mentions both the early desperation of the airline during the onset of the pandemic and a deal struck between United Airlines and the federal government using taxpayer dollars. “The US government bought 4.6 million shares of United Airlines stock,” he explains. Not only did this rank the government among the company’s largest shareholders, it may have also contributed to their early and vehement pursuit of total workforce vaccination.
APPLY OR COMPLY
As outlined in the complaint filed by thirty current and former United Airlines employees, “a campaign of harassment” ensued, “designed to force plaintiffs to submit to an injection.” As the Biden administration conspicuously continued to take an active interest in the company, the work environment at United became toxic for the non-compliant or exempted, both of whom were confronted by “deception, discrimination, psychological manipulation, and physical isolation” or “[threatened] with. . . termination to participate in a dangerous social and medical experiment.”
With that, Anderson walked me through the underdeveloped– perhaps even purposefully obfuscated– process which dogged those who applied for exemption: “It was a horrible process. It was very cumbersome. There was no easy way to understand how the whole process worked. They gave arbitrary deadlines—sometimes over weekends and holidays—to get your information in.”
Religious exemption applications even required third-party referrals to verify the devoutness of the applicant’s religious convictions—an unquantifiable scruple that seems more or less punitive when observing the outcomes. Both Floyd and Anderson were granted religious exemptions before being placed on indefinite, unpaid leave. Eventually, the two seasoned pilots left United for greener pastures— but many of the others involved in the suit remain in purgatory.
Even after the World Health Organization acknowledged the validity of natural immunity in May 2021 and United began the slow reintroduction of non-compliant United employees in March 2022, exempted employees still face discrimination: “The harassment hasn’t stopped,” says Floyd. Some of the unvaccinated plaintiffs returned to their positions with United, only to be met with a chilly welcome. “The thing is, none of the previous policies were rescinded,” Floyd explained. Bogged down by tedious masking protocols and PCR tests followed by gentle reminders that “unvaccinated” employees can be put back on unpaid leaves of absence at any time, the plaintiffs involved in this case just want the madness to end.
MAKING ITS WAY THROUGH THE COURTS
Though the lawsuit was filed twelve days ago, the papers are still in the process of being served. So far, there has been no reply from United Airlines, nor from any of the defendants named in the case. As the complaint makes its way through the courts, Anderson hopes for a standard-setting outcome: “Just because we work for a company like United that’s a massive corporate entity, it doesn’t mean that we’re not US citizens. It doesn’t mean that we have to give up our religious convictions.”
The rest of the plaintiffs include people like James Breitsprecher, who was employed by United for twenty-two years after serving as a Navy SEAL, and Paul Rozell, who was terminated by United after twenty-seven years working as a ramp services agent. The initial reluctance of this cohort to see their lawsuit through has now hardened into a resolve born of duty.
If you’d like to donate towards the cost of the lawsuit, you can do so by visiting Wings For Liberty. They are also asking for prayers.