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Delta Mandates All New Employees Must Have COVID-19 Vaccinations

Benzinga logo Benzinga 5/14/2021 Phil Hall
a large passenger jet flying through a cloudy blue sky © Provided by Benzinga Delta Air Lines, Inc. (NYSE: DAL) has announced a new corporate mandate requiring all future employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 before joining the company.

What Happened: The Atlanta-headquartered carrier issued a statement praising the vaccines for protecting individuals and speeding the end of the pandemic, adding that the new mandate will ensure its employees will not face a reprise of the health crisis.

“Delta people have made great progress to achieve herd immunity within our workforce, so to help us maintain that trajectory, we will be requiring all new hires in the U.S. to be vaccinated against COVID-19 unless they qualify for an accommodation,” said Elizabeth Ninomiya, manager of strategic communications. “This is an important move to protect our workforce and our customers as our business recovers and demand for air travel continues to rise.”

Speaking on CNN, Delta CEO Ed Bastian clarified this mandate won't apply to current employees.

“I am not going to mandate and force people if they have some specific reason why they don’t want to get vaccinated,” he said. “I am going to strongly encourage them that they understand the risks of not getting vaccinated.”

However, he noted employees who are not vaccinated may be excluded from certain assignments, including international flights. He added that 60% of Delta’s workforce has at least one vaccine shot.

Related Link: CDC Says Fully Vaccinated People Can Mostly Stop Wearing Masks

Why It Matters: Delta is the first U.S. carrier to announce it will only hire vaccinated individuals. The New York Times reported United Airlines Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: UAL) CEO Scott Kirby voiced his support for the idea in a video forum in January, but decided not to go forward because the carrier could not “realistically be the only company” to take this action.

Although most schools in the U.S. require children to have certain vaccinations, there is no precedent for companies refusing to hire people based on their vaccination status.

Current federal policy on employer-mandated vaccinations is focused on the rights of current employees, not potential hires.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued guidance last December stating companies “may encourage or possibly require COVID-19 vaccinations” of its workforce, provided their policies are in compliance with workplace laws including the Americans with Disabilities Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII).

(Photo: Delta Air Lines)

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