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Stock Markets19 minutes ago (Sep 28, 2021 07:06PM ET)

(C) Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A United Airlines passenger jet takes off with New York City as a backdrop, at Newark Liberty International Airport, New Jersey, U.S. December 6, 2019. REUTERS/Chris Helgren/File Photo

By Rajesh Kumar Singh

CHICAGO (Reuters) -United Airlines said on Tuesday nearly 600 U.S.-based employees are facing the risk of termination following their failure to comply with the carrier’s vaccination policy.

In early August, the company became the first U.S. carrier to require COVID-19 vaccinations for all domestic employees. It had set a deadline of Sept. 27 for providing proof of vaccination.

A day after the deadline passed, the carrier said it would start as early as on Tuesday the process of firing 593 employees who decided not to get vaccinated.

“This was an incredibly difficult decision but keeping our team safe has always been our first priority,” Chief Executive Scott Kirby (NYSE:KEX) and President Brett Hart told employees in a memo.

The workers can still save their jobs if they choose to get vaccinated before their formal termination meetings, the company officials said.

United has also received requests for vaccine exemptions from employees, citing religious and medical reasons. Those employees, however, account for less than 3% of the airline’s 67,000 U.S. workforce, United officials said.

Excluding those who have sought an exemption, United said more than 99% of U.S.-based employees have been vaccinated against COVID-19.

United Airlines ready to fire workers for defying vaccine mandate

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United Airlines ready to fire workers for defying vaccine mandate