PHOENIX - United Airlines employees refusing to get vaccinated against COVID-19 have now been placed on unpaid leave, and one Phoenix area pilot is pushing back in hopes of getting back in the air.
Dave Morgan has been a pilot with United for the last 22 years, getting travellers to their domestic and international destinations.
"Flying is in my blood. My kids all want to be pilots. When you clip the wings of a pilot, it takes a big part of you out of you," said Morgan.
Morgan is no longer in the air because of United's vaccine mandate.
"My deeply held religious beliefs do not allow me to take the vaccine United Airlines is asking me to take," said Morgan.
Morgan's religious exemption was not granted by the company. Meanwhile, a federal judge has ruled that United Airlines can impose a COVID-19 vaccine mandate on its employees that allows unpaid leave for workers who are exempted for medical and religious reasons.
While the company did grant some exemptions, employees in certain roles, including pilots and flight attendants, had to take unpaid leave due to the positions being public-facing occupations.
"We worked through COVID, we worked through the difficult times when this country was scrambling to find answers and questions, and there was so much fear and we worked through this, but suddenly, we can't continue to do that," said Morgan.
Now, Morgan and others in his position are taking the issue to federal court, with hopes to get back in the sky once again.
"I love my job. I love United, and I want to continue another 10 years and retire successfully," said Morgan.
Morgan has created a non-profit organization to help them raise money to pay their medical bills.
Meanwhile, officials with the airline company have issued a statement to FOX 10, which reads:
- Judge hears argument in Arizona attorney general's lawsuit over federal COVID-19 vaccine rules
- Matthew McConaughey says he is against mandating COVID-19 vaccines for children
- NFL fines Packers, Aaron Rodgers, Allen Lazard for violating league COVID-19 rules
Tune in to FOX 10 Phoenix for the latest news