Judge rejects union's challenge to Southwest vaccine mandate

DALLAS (AP) — A federal judge has rejected a bid by pilots to block Southwest Airlines from imposing a vaccine mandate, saying the airline is within its power to require vaccination as a safety measure.

U.S. District Judge Barbara Lynn denied the request by the airline’s pilot union to issue a temporary restraining order against the airline’s requirement.

The judge said that Southwest is within its authority to require vaccinations to improve safety and maintain its operations.

Related: Southwest cancels plan to put unvaccinated employees on unpaid leave

Southwest Airlines asked its employees to get vaccinated against Covid-19 to comply with a Biden administration requirement for federal contractors including airlines that have contracts with the government.

In recent days, the airline has weakened the requirement by saying workers who fail to comply won’t be fired.

Related: Airlines affirm worker vax mandates despite Texas order

Southwest has openly encouraged employees to ask for a medical or religious exemption from being vaccinated if they object to getting the shots.

Southwest is giving employees until Nov. 24 to provide proof of vaccination or request an exemption.

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