Rockmond Dunbar files discrimination lawsuit against Disney over 9-1-1 firing
Rockmond Dunbar has filed a discrimination lawsuit against Disney and 20th Television over his firing from the Fox procedural drama, 9-1-1.
In a suit filed Thursday, Dunbar, who was abruptly written off the show in November after he requested medical and religious exemption from COVID-19 vaccine mandates, alleged that his firing violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the California Fair Employment Housing Act, among others.
In the lawsuit, Dunbar noted his tenure as the only Black male lead on the series, alleging that he did not receive an exemption when other "non-minority" 9-1-1 cast and crew did on a set that required vaccinations.
"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 lawsuit read, per Deadline. "On information and belief, non-minority employees similarly situated were not subject to termination when they refused the COVID-19 vaccine."
FOX Image Collection via Getty Images Rockmond Dunbar
The suit also alleges that the studios behind the Fox series "leaked negative information to the media" about Dunbar's departure, "including that he sought both religious and medical exemptions that were denied." It continued, "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 suit identified Dunbar as "an adherent to the teachings of the Church of Universal Wisdom."
When reached for comment on Thursday, 20th Television declined to comment on Dunbar's lawsuit but offered the following statement to EW:
"To ensure safe working environments at our productions we have implemented a mandatory vaccination confirmation process. While we will not comment on any one individual, each request for exemption is given a thorough review and we grant accommodations consistent with our legal obligations. There are no differences in our process or decision-making based on an employee's race."
A series regular since the series' debut, Dunbar portrayed Michael Grant, ex-husband of Angela Bassett's Athena Grant before his character came out as gay, for five seasons. His departure came in an early season 5 episode, wherein Michael moved to Haiti with his fiancé David after surviving a near-death explosion.
EW has reached out to Dunbar's reps for comment.