In the summer of 2021, ABC Studios — which is a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company — instituted a vaccine mandate for not only the crew members who worked on its shows, but also the cast members on the shows. The mandate was similar to the one implemented at The Walt Disney Company and other studios it owned, like Marvel and Fox. The decision was a controversial one that led to some actors being fired from shows they had been on for years — like Rockmond Dunbar who left the Fox show 9-1-1 and Ingo Rademacher who left General Hospital.
The biggest issue that Disney and ABC have faced is people asking for religious exemptions for the vaccine mandate. Mostly all of those requests have been denied, which is now leading to lawsuits. Two former crew members who used to work on the hit ABC soap opera General Hospital are suing ABC over the vaccine mandate. The two men — James and Timothy Wahl — claimed they both applied for religious exemption but were denied and subsequently fired for their refusal to get vaccinated.
“These actions were unlawful. ABC does not have the authority to force a medical treatment on its employees against their will. Even if it did, it must offer religious exemptions to anybody who requests one. It cannot discriminate among religions and cannot second-guess the sincerity of one’s religious beliefs without an objective basis for doing so. It did not have one here. ABC’s actions constitute religious discrimination and violate Plaintiffs’ rights under state law.”
The lawsuit further claims that Disney lawyers spoke to both men and asked them questions, so they could get answers to use against the men as a way to deny their religious exemption request. When the men were denied the exemption, they were reportedly not told why. The men claim that ABC violated civil liberties when it questioned the validity of their religious exemption claims. They also say that they asked why vaccines were required when those who are vaccinated can still catch COVID-19.
Both Wahl’s are being represented by the same attorneys who are representing Ingo Rademacher. Rademacher played Jasper Jacks on General Hospital for over twenty years. He was fired from the show when he also refused to get vaccinated.