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Toxic Bosses Like United Airlines’ Vaccine-Pushing CEO Must Be Held Accountable

Anything less than total vindication for the plaintiffs suing United would be a serious blow to freedom of conscience and personal sovereignty.


Every American should be rooting for the plaintiffs suing United Airlines for violating the Civil Rights Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. About 2,000 employees were supposedly granted religious or medical accommodations to excuse them from taking the Covid vaccine (out of about 5,000 requests). But those “accommodations” came with harsh, discriminatory punishments. 

United CEO Scott Kirby displayed a hostile attitude toward any employee who did not comply with his orders to get the Covid vaccine. By September 2021, all “reasonably accommodated” pilots, flight attendants, and “customer-facing” employees who declined the injection were stripped of their pay and their medical insurance. The process of discovery also revealed that other employees who hesitated to take the jabs were subjected to a deliberate campaign of workplace humiliation — under the guise of safety — in which they were required to undergo “purposely putative” masking and testing.

There’s a lot at stake in the outcome of this lawsuit. Especially critical is the plaintiffs’ motion last month to certify the case as a class action. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in February 2022 that the plaintiffs suffered “irreparable harm” from United Airlines’ policy of unpaid leave, its threats, and its coercive practices. But only if the suit proceeds as a class action can United truly be held accountable for the great harm it’s done to so many of its employees. Federal District Judge Mark Pittman will probably rule on that motion within the next couple of months.

Kirby apparently used every dirty trick in the book to pressure every single one of United’s 60,000 employees to submit to the injections and other Covid-related mandates. Tactics included mockery, threats, harassment on the job, pressure on family members, and literal financial ruin. He even warned that anyone considering an exemption — whether because of a sincere religious objection or because of an authenticated medical need certified by a physician — should “be very careful” because “you’re putting your job on the line.”

There are at least three key takeaways from the situation at United. First, it illustrates that the injured must always seek out one another and speak in solidarity to hold accountable those who do harm. Second, toxic bosses like Kirby will always use the tired excuse of “safety” or “for your own good” as a means of imposing control. Third, power elites like Kirby seem only interested in what their circle of elites thinks of them. They don’t care what the public thinks because they have the propaganda media running cover for them while they use people as pawns in their games of one-upmanship with their competitors.

Solidarity Always Overcomes Isolation

If it had not been for two United pilots and an attorney who co-founded Airline Employees for Heath Freedom (AE4HF) most of the injured employees probably would have remained silent. A United pilot told me this group’s outspokenness against the mandates clarified that he was not alone in his concerns.

I’ve often noted this point in my essays and my book, The Weaponization of Loneliness. People are more easily controlled when they’re socially isolated. But when grievances are openly shared, the injured become more emboldened. That’s why tyrants always seek first to socially isolate their targets through demonization campaigns.

After United Captain Sherry Walker and her fellow pilot, Captain Laura Cox, along with attorney Danielle Runyan co-founded AE4HF, more aggrieved employees came out of the shadows. At a rally against the mandates last year, Walker passionately declared that Kirby “decided to play God” and “destroyed our lives for his marketing campaign.”

Kirby’s Mandates Were Never About Safety

Safety? Please. Don’t talk about safety in the same breath as this so-called vaccine.

Kirby was likely hoping to gain bragging rights over the entire airline industry. He was pushing hard for 100 percent Covid-vaccinated employees, far beyond what’s required for herd immunity. Obviously, 100 percent is an unattainable goal for such a huge labor force of actual individual human beings.

First, if you believe they are human, you don’t make it impossible for employees to apply for reasonable accommodations. A United pilot told me, “They gave us undoable tasks and timelines.” He said that on the Friday before Labor Day in 2021, United allowed applications but required receipt by Labor Day, along with documentation from the applicant’s religious leader or doctor.

Second, you don’t harass and demonize them. The process of discovery uncovered numerous cases of coercive practices through psychological and social pressures by United. For example, those requesting a religious accommodation were sent a list of weird and deceptive questions insinuating that refusal to vaccinate meant not loving one’s neighbor as oneself.

Another divide-and-conquer tactic presumably endorsed by Kirby was to send postcards to the homes of the unvaccinated employees, in red print warning that not getting the shot would result in termination from the company. The intention was evidently to alert family members so that the employee could be further pressured at home.

‘It’s Too Bad He’s a Jerk’

One United pilot who survived the toxicity told me that he had once viewed Kirby as an exceptionally talented CEO who was very smart and effective: “He made United a lot of money. It’s too bad he’s a jerk.”

Indeed. Despite the mediocrity that is corrupting all institutions today, there are still many elites with high levels of talent. So why is it increasingly uncommon to find any with compassion and a sense of honor?

Most decent people assume that even high-level elites would care if the general public thought of them as low-life jerks who prey on others to feed their egos. No, these guys care primarily about what other elites think of them. Being the first in the industry with the vaccine mandate got Kirby something he seemed to care far more about: a special pat on the back from President Joe Biden. Likewise, it’s doubtful he cared when a video of him as a twerking drag queen went viral.

Hence, it makes sense that while Kirby’s barbaric injection mandate is stalled, he’s shifted his focus to another elitist pissing contest: making United Airlines the “first in the industry” to hire 50 percent of pilots on the basis of “diversity, equity, and inclusion” (DEI). See how this works? It’s about using the woke to impress fellow elites who must follow in his woke footsteps, thus promoting his status in his circle.

Kirby can also use DEI the way he used the Covid mandates: to divide and conquer his workforce. So much for team spirit. Most people instinctively know that DEI drives a wedge between people who feel passed over despite their qualifications and people who feel they got special treatment with no regard for their qualifications.

Any Ruling for United Is a Ruling for Tyranny

United’s Covid mandates are still in place, though not enforced because of the lawsuit. A final ruling for United Airlines would amount to judicial endorsement of all abuses of power for which its CEO pushed so hard. It would give all corporations and all such CEOs the green light to abuse their employees in the same way United abused theirs.

Most alarming was United’s invasion of the homes of its unvaccinated employees with postcards sent to stoke tensions at home. It’s a creepy practice, a dangerous step toward making private life a very public matter.

So any ruling in United’s favor — particularly on the recent motion to certify the injured as a class — would give a green light for all large corporations to abuse employees and invade their privacy. Anything less than total vindication for the plaintiffs would be a serious blow to freedom of conscience and personal sovereignty.

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