Suit filed against United Launch Alliance on behalf of current, former contractors

Published: Nov. 12, 2021 at 10:45 PM CST
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DECATUR, Ala. (WAFF) - We have an update for you tonight on a group of federal contractors in Decatur.

We were there when they stood outside United Launch Alliance for a week after their exemptions were denied.

Now they’re taking that protest one step further; filing a federal class-action lawsuit.

Five workers, three on administrative leave and two who have resigned say they’ve been discriminated against.

Friday the Alabama Center for Law and Liberty filed a federal lawsuit on their behalf.

Here’s the question, what is their chance of winning?

Alabama is an at-will employment state, meaning you can be fired or quit at any time..

But an unemployment attorney tells us federal law trumps that state law, so these employees do have a chance of winning in court.

The plaintiffs are alleging ULA is discriminating against them, after denying their medical and religious exemptions.

Attorney Robert Lockwood says ULA will have to respond and explain what was their decision-making process when denying their exemptions.

“Right now these individuals are saying they’ve been discriminated against because of their religious beliefs. And ultimately, probably what you’ll see is an investigation from the EEOC and then potentially evidence presented to a judge at some point to determine exactly what went into this decision-making process,” Lockwood said.

Now ULA did not respond to our question about the lawsuit, but they did send us this statement.

It reads in part, “Since the beginning of the pandemic, the health and safety of the ULA team and everyone in our buildings have been at the forefront of our COVID-19 response. Following the implementation of our vaccine policy to align with the multiple contract modifications we have received from our customer that require all ULA employees to become vaccinated, we have only seen a 1 percent impact to our workforce of those employees that did not comply with the policy and become vaccinated. That number could vary slightly as we are still working through the appeal process. We have no critical personnel gaps, slowdowns or disruptions to our work or processing for our customers’ launches. We understand these are tremendously challenging times, and we are committed to ensure a safe and healthy work environment, while continuing to support the nation’s most critical missions.”

Lockwood says it usually takes six months for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to investigate these claims, but it may take longer due to being overwhelmed with similar cases.

Ultimately it will be up to a federal judge to decide. The workers could receive back pay, damages and their jobs back.

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