DECATUR, Ala. — Attorneys for five employees of Decatur defense contractor United Launch Alliance have withdrawn a federal lawsuit over the company’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
As a federal contractor, ULA employees are required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 unless they present a religious or medical exemption. At least five employees of the company say they filed exemptions, but the company denied them. They were placed on administrative leave for refusing to get vaccinated.
The employees filed a lawsuit in federal court asking the judge to grant a temporary injunction that would prevent ULA from terminating the employees. The judge denied that request, claiming that the lawsuit did not have firm legal grounding.
All five employees say they have since been terminated from employment with ULA.
Since the lawsuit was filed to prevent the employees from being fired, the attorneys decided to withdraw the lawsuit. They say they may sue over wrongful termination at a later date.
Right now, the employees are focusing on claims that their termination violates Alabama state law. Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall has said that companies must “liberally construe” in favor of employees who request exemptions from the mandate.
The law instructs employees who feel they’ve been wrongfully denied an exemption to file a claim with an administrative law judge within the Alabama Department of Labor. According to documents filed in the federal suit, the employees did that, and the judge granted their exemption request. But, attorneys for the employees say ULA refused to comply with the administrative law judges ruling.
The attorneys say they’re working with the Alabama Department of Labor on what to do next.