Former “9-1-1” actor Rockmond Dunbar has filed a federal lawsuit in California against his former bosses Disney and 20th Television over his exit from the Fox series.
In legal documents obtained by People, Dunbar claims racial discrimination against the entertainment companies and alleges they refused to grant him a religious exemption and other vaccine-related accommodations but did so for other, non-Black cast members.
“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 complaint stated. “On information and belief, non-minority employees similarly situated were not subject to termination when they refused the COVID-19 vaccine.”
Dunbar, who appeared on the original cast of the action drama as Michael Grant for five seasons, also alleged that producers assured him that he’d remain on the show after flying the documents. Still, he was eventually written off in November 2021.
“The administrators who work for [the studios] never took Mr. Dunbar’s requests for accommodations seriously…” the papers stated. “Defendants refused to believe Mr. Dunbar’s doctor’s recommendation, and they refused to engage with Mr. Dunbar in any meaningful interactive communication regarding his religious beliefs.”
In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, 20th Television denied Dunbar’s racism allegations, stating that “there are no differences in our process or decision-making based on an employee’s race.”
They added, “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.”
In September 2021, Dunbar requested both a religious exemption based on his beliefs as a member of the Church of Universal Wisdom and a medical exemption based on an undisclosed disability, according to the complaint.
Many critics on social media don’t believe that “The Game” star has a shot in court against the media powerhouse. Statements in the comment sections of blog sites echoed comments similar to one by one Instagram user who exclaimed, “NOW POOKIE!!!” referencing his former CW series. Another person commented, “Businesses don’t have to abide by your exemptions. Either follow their rules or leave. That’s how a lot big brands are operating.”
“He worked for a company who had the right to mandate vaccinations for the safety of yourself and those around you,” shared a third person. “They didn’t force him to take the vaccine because he is still unvaccinated. They gave him an option. It was his decision to leave ultimately.”
In 2019, the 49-year-old opened up about his infamous exit, telling Deadline, “I applied for religious and medical accommodations pursuant to the law and unfortunately was denied by my employer.” He added, ”My sincerely held beliefs and private medical history are very intimate and personal aspects of my life that I do not publicly discuss and have no desire to start now.”
Dunbar alleges improper dismissal from the Fox show and severe damage to his professional reputation. It’s unclear what compensation he is seeking.
More Stories from Our Partners:
‘Somebody Knows Something’: City of Houston Offers $30,000 Reward for Information on Person Who Shot 9-Year-Old Girl In a Fit of Road Rage
“We Need A Black Commissioner In The NFL” | Legendary Running Back Eric Dickerson Suggests How To Fix NFL Racial Inequity
Black-Led VC Fund for Black-Owned Health-Tech Startups Gets $55 Million Investment Boost