Pilot fights back as many airline employees laid off over vax mandate can’t access medical benefits, 401k

(Video: Fox Business)

United Airlines has placed more than 1,000 pilots on unpaid leave for failing to comply with its vaccine mandate, leaving many in limbo without medical benefits and unable to access their 401Ks.

One pilot is fighting back.

United pilot and co-founder of Airline Employees 4 Health Freedom Sherry Walker appeared on Fox Business’s “Cavuto: Coast to Coast” Friday to explain the burden the company’s policy is having on its staff and to discuss the lawsuit her group is filing on behalf of United employees.

“Myself and two co-founders are leading 2,000-plus United employees in a lawsuit against our company for violates of Title VII,” Walker said. “We asked for reasonable accommodations in lieu of the COVID vaccine, and we were summarily denied and put on indefinite unpaid leave. We filed a lawsuit in the fifth circuit, and right now, we have appealed the preliminary injunction and are waiting for a ruling in the fifth down in New Orleans.”

The hardship faced by the suspended pilots is both real and urgent, explained Walker.

“After the temporary restraining order was lifted, approximately — well, slightly over a thousand of our pilots and flight attendants— were put on indefinite unpaid leave,” said Walker. “We lost all medical benefits, so so I’m paying five to six times more at COBRA rates.”

“We were told at first we couldn’t get outside employment, then I was told I could go back and throw bags for $12 an hour,” she added. “And those who did apply for those jobs, the computer system automatically kicked back a ‘you’re not vaccinated, you don’t qualify for the job.'”

Those who attempted to seek employment outside of United were also stymied in their efforts.

“They were told that we have no-compete clauses,” said Walker, “and now they’ve tried to access their savings and their 401(k), and those that are under 59-and-a-half, like myself, do not have access to that money.”

It would appear that United Airlines wants the best of both pandemic-era worlds.

“So it all stems from the fact that United wanted to have its cake and eat it too,” Walker stated. “It wanted to keep us as active employees, which means at any time, with two weeks’ notice, we could be called back, versus inactive, which then would have triggered furlough protections, [and] allowed us to gain employment. So it would have put the other pilots and flight attendants on restrictions so they couldn’t pick up overtime.”

When asked if she had ever considered taking that path of least resistance and submitting to the vaccine, Walker didn’t hesitate with her answer.

“I never considered it,” she replied steadfastly. “My faith is such that I’m strong and will be fine, and if it means a career change, that’ll be fine too. I believe the judge in his dissent pointed out the critical nature of the crisis of conscience. No person should be faced to choose between feeding their family and their faith in their god.”

The United Airlines vaccine mandate has come under scrutiny since its announcement in August of last year.

The company’s CEO Scott Kirby, in his testimony before the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee on Dec. 15, 2021, stated, “We did this for safety. We believe it saved lives. We don’t compromise on safety.”


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