Airlines affirm worker vaccination mandates despite Texas order

Despite an executive order from Texas Governor, airlines are still adhering to the Covid-19 vaccine mandates for their employees. Greg Abbott has banned businesses from adopting the vaccines in Texas.
Abbott's Oct. 11 executive order directed that no state entity can "compel the receipt of a Covid-19 vaccination" to any customer or employee who objects for personal conscience, religious objection, or medical reasons.

The order requires that violators be fined, and that the state legislature adopt the same rule through legislation during its next meeting in the coming weeks.

Southwest Airlines, based in Dallas, announced last week that all employees who do not have approved exemptions must be fully immunized by December 8. It is maintaining that policy despite Abbott’s order.

The carrier has announced that it will comply with the executive order of U.S. President Joe Biden, which requires federally contracted businesses to have a fully vaccinated workforce. It still plans to follow that order.

Southwest stated in a statement that "according to the President’s executive order federal action supersedes all state mandates or laws, and we would expect to comply with the president’s order to maintain compliance as a federal contractor." We will continue to monitor all orders and keep our employees informed about any possible changes to existing policies.

American Airlines, which is also headquartered in Dallas issued a similar statement. It stated that the federal mandate overrides any state laws. According to the statement, "This does nothing for American."

The matter is likely to go to the courts. However, the FAA commented on speculations that Southwest's recent cancellations were due to employee shortages triggered by the vaccine mandate. The FAA supported statements made by Southwest and its pilots union that there had been no employee action against the mandate.

"To be precise: No information from Southwest, its pilots union, or the FAA suggests that this weekend’s cancellations were connected to vaccine mandates," stated the FAA in a tweet Oct. 11.

While airlines have been able to immediately address vaccine mandates because they are government contractors, other suppliers of travel, such as hotels, will likely have to address the issue with Biden's plans to have the Department of Labor mandate weekly testing for companies with over 100 employees.

Justin Bragiel is the general counsel for the Texas Hotel & Lodging Association. He stated that so far, very few companies have put in place a mandate to require vaccinations, but they encourage their employees to do so. He said that Abbott's order was just one more point to be assessed.

He said that the industry, along with others, was still waiting for the release OSHA's Temporary Emergency Standard. "When it is released, we will balance federal OSHA requirements with any state legislation. This will determine how to proceed."

Source: Business Travel News

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