United Airlines' vaccine mandate leads to lawsuit from pilot placed on unpaid leave: report

Dave Morgan has been a pilot with United for more than two decades

A longtime pilot is reportedly suing United Airlines for being placed on unpaid leave as a result of not following the company’s coronavirus vaccine mandate. 

Dave Morgan – who is based in the Phoenix area -- has flown planes with United for 22 years, according to FOX10 Phoenix

"My deeply held religious beliefs do not allow me to take the vaccine United Airlines is asking me to take," he told the station.

A United Airlines passenger jet takes off with New York City as a backdrop at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey in December 2019.  (Reuters/Chris Helgren)

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"Flying is in my blood. My kids all want to be pilots," he added. "When you clip the wings of a pilot, it takes a big part of you out of you." 

The father of three has been granted an exemption by United – an accommodation that started Friday, 12News reports. 

"Unpaid leave. One step from total separation. I cannot retire, I cannot collect unemployment. I have to find insurance to cover for my family," Morgan told that station. 

United Airlines employees work at ticket counters in Terminal 1 at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago on Oct. 14, 2020. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh / AP Newsroom)

He is now suing United Airlines in federal court, according to FOX10 Phoenix. 

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FOX Business has reached out to United for further comment. 

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On Monday last week, a U.S. federal judge ruled that United Airlines can impose a vaccine mandate that provides unpaid leave for staff who obtain medical and religious exemptions. 

A United Airlines 737 Max 9 takes off.  (United Airlines)

"We know that the best way to keep everyone as safe as we can is for everyone to get vaccinated, as nearly all United employees have chosen to do," United Airlines said in a statement to FOX10 Phoenix. "We are working to identify non-customer facing roles where accommodated employees can apply and continue working until it is safe for them to their return to their current positions."