Fox’s hit drama series, 9-1-1, explores the high-pressure experiences of the first responders who must jump into some of the most frightening, shocking and heart-stopping situations.
The show stars Angela Bassett (Athena Grant), Peter Krause (Bobby Nash), Oliver Stark (Evan ‘Buck’ Buckley), Aisha Hinds (Henrietta ‘Hen’ Wilson), Kenneth Choi (Howie ‘Chimney’ Han), and more. Rockmond Dunbar also starred in select episodes of the show as Michael Grant before he abruptly left the Fox series.
Now, Dunbar is suing the series’ production company, 20th Television, and its parent company, Disney, claiming the studio “engaged in discrimination”, including mocking his religious beliefs, barring him from the set and hampering his ability to get other work.
Dunbar played Michael Grant, who was the ex-husband of Angela Bassett’s character, Athena Grant. The actor was abruptly written off in November 2021, which came after he had requested a medical exemption (and later a religious exemption) from the COVID-19 protocols on the show, which require all actors and actresses to be vaccinated.
According to Deadline, Dunbar’s medical and religious exemption requests were reviewed by Disney, but were later rejected, according to the suit, which was filed Thursday in U.S. District Court. Deadline reports:
“In retaliation, Defendants summarily terminated Mr. Dunbar’s employment agreement, and refused to pay him the hundreds of thousands of dollars that are still owed to him,” the lawsuit, which references a Deadline article numerous times, reads. “Then, wanting to make an example out of Mr. Dunbar, he believes that Defendants wrongfully leaked negative information to the media about his departure from ‘9-1-1’ including that he sought both religious and medical exemptions that were denied. Defendants deliberately made it sound like Mr. Dunbar was a recalcitrant anti-vaxxer, rather than present the truth – that like millions of other Americans, he is a sincere adherent to a non-mainstream religious belief that prevents him from being vaccinated.”
The lawsuit went on to say that Dunbar is “an adherent to the teachings of the Church of Universal Wisdom.”
The lawsuit claims the defendants’ (Disney and 20th Television) actions violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the California Fair Employment Housing Act and common law principles of contract law.
Dunbar is seeking “over $1.3 million in compensation owed to him under the contract,” as well as wide-ranging other damages and injunctions in the civil rights-based action, according to the suit.
Deadline‘s report continued:
“On information and belief, Disney has a history of racial discrimination, and Mr. Dunbar was subjected to disparate treatment and disparate impact discrimination on the basis of his race,” the 45-page filing reads. “On information and belief, non-minority employees similarly situated were not subject to termination when they refused the COVID-19 vaccine.”
Both Disney and 20th Television declined comment on the lawsuit; however, at the time of Dunbar’s exit from 9-1-1, the company told Deadline:
“We take the health and safety of all of our employees very seriously, and have implemented a mandatory vaccination confirmation process for those working in Zone A on our productions. In order to ensure a safer workplace for all, Zone A personnel who do not confirm their vaccination status and do not meet the criteria for exemption will not be eligible to work.”
What do you think about Dunbar’s exit from 9-1-1 or the current lawsuit? Let us know in the comments below.