Hawaiian Air Welcomes Back Some Unvaccinated Employees
Airlines Industry

Hawaiian Air Welcomes Back Some Unvaccinated Employees

DALLAS – Beginning October 1, 2022, Hawaii’s largest commercial airline, Hawaiian Air (HA), will lift its COVID-19 vaccination requirement imposed on employees during the pandemic. 

The option to return to work is only extended to workers who agreed to take an unpaid leave of absence in 2021 if they promised to get the shot by January 3, 2023. The estimated 100 workers who did not partake in the deal would not benefit from this offer and were therefore terminated.

HA introduced the Airbus A321neo in January 2018. Photo: Nico Sheeder/Airways.

Return Policy Backlash

The sacked workers claim that the new return policy is unfair and illegal. Some argue that the documents were confusing with several versions, so they applied for religious exemptions instead of the leave of absence, and few exemptions were given. 

Before the return policy was introduced, many workers filed claims with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and a class action lawsuit against HA was also created to stop their employment termination.

With the new policy in play, the attorney has decided to refile the complaint because the workers were not giving adequate justification for denying their exemptions. The attorney, Wilfredo Tungol, who previously worked with EEOC, poised that under federal law, an employer must show due diligence when they deny exemption requests from their employees. 

In response, HA stated that it had, “worked hard to make appropriate rules and decisions, consistent with its legal obligations and medical guidance,” to prioritize everyone’s safety. 

Hawaiian is the last carrier in the US to lift the vaccination policy for workers.

Featured Image: Hawaiian Airlines Airbus A330-200 (N383HA). Photo: Brandon Farris/Airways.

From residing in the Caribbean, Tarik has developed an interest in studying how developing nations benefit from the presence of the aviation industry through tourism, trade, and other linkages. Based in Jamaica.

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