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Former ‘General Hospital’ Crew Members Sue ABC Over Vaccine Mandate

Two former "General Hospital" crew members file a complaint against ABC for "unconstitutional" and "religious discrimination" over the company's vaccine mandate.

Former ‘General Hospital’ Crew Members Sue ABC Over Vaccine Mandate

Two former "General Hospital" crew members file a complaint against ABC for "unconstitutional" and "religious discrimination" over the company's vaccine mandate.

JW Howard/Attorneys, Ltd, the law firm representing former “General Hospital” actor Ingo Rademacher (ex-Jasper “Jax” Jacks) in his wrongful termination lawsuit against Disney-owned ABC, is now also representing two former crew members from the daytime drama series who were also let go over their decision to not get vaccinated which was mandated by the company. The corporate mandate requires vaccination against COVID-19 for the cast and crews of Disney/ABC-produced shows, effective November 1, 2021.

According to the 14-page complaint, first published by Deadline, James Wahl (“Jim”) and Timothy James Wahl (“Tim”) (collectively, “Plaintiffs”) allege that the mandate is “unconstitutional” and is a form of “religious discrimination.”

“Plaintiffs ran the construction shop and special effects department for the ABC produced soap opera ‘General Hospital.’ Jim had worked on the show for 14 years. His son, Tim, had worked on the show for 10 years. They are behind-the-scenes employees who were critical to ‘General Hospital’s’ success,” reads a portion of the suit describing the job function of the former employees. “Plaintiffs requested a religious exemption to the Covid Vaccine Mandate. Although ABC said it would grant exemptions for sincerely held religious objections to the Covid-19 shots, it refused to accept Plaintiffs’ request. It denied their requests without explanation, one week after they requested them.

“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 suit notes, “like all Californians, Plaintiffs have a right to bodily autonomy, which the Covid Vaccine Mandate violates. They also have a right to informational privacy. ABC violated those rights” and “Plaintiffs bring this action to hold ABC accountable for its unlawful discrimination and invasion of their privacy rights.”

In recapping details relating to studies and government oversight on the release of the authorized Covid-19 vaccinations, the Wahl’s note in their lawsuit that “Despite this history, and mounting evidence that the Covid shots do not prevent people from contracting or spreading Covid-19, much of which was available last summer, many government officials and other leaders have mandated that people get the shot to participate in daily life or keep their jobs.” They highlight, “To that end, during the summer of 2021, ABC decided that anybody who works on a television show it produces would have to get one of the Covid-19 shots or would be fired. The mandate was unprecedented. ABC has never required that individuals get a vaccine to work on a television show. It never even inquired about such private medical information before the Covid pandemic, recognizing that California prohibits employers from conditioning employment on medical conformity.”

Additionally, “ABC said it would respect an individual’s sincere religious objection to the Covid Vaccine Mandate. Therefore, during October 2021, Plaintiffs requested religious exemptions to the mandate,” which “Rather than accept Plaintiffs’ request for a religious exemption, ABC scheduled an interview between them and an ABC employee to discuss their requests. Although ABC described the interview as an ‘interactive process,’ the interview was conducted by a lawyer who works for Disney. It was a cross-examination designed to elicit information that ABC could use to deny Plaintiffs’ requests for an exemption, as it denied almost all such requests during 2021.”

“On November 9, 2021, ABC officially denied Plaintiffs’ requests for religious exemptions to the Covid Vaccine Mandate. It gave no reason for its decision, except to say that the company was ‘unable to conclude that you are prevented from receiving the Covid-19 vaccine due to a sincerely-held religious belief, practice, or observance.’”

The allegation continues, noting, “ABC said nothing else. It did not ask Plaintiffs whether they could perform the essential functions of their jobs. It did not show that the company would be unduly burdened by continuing to employ Plaintiffs even if they did not get the Covid shots. It made no effort whatsoever to comply with its obligations under the law and, on information and belief, it violated numerous ABC/Disney policies about how to handle requests for religious accommodations, even when health is involved.”

For more from the lawsuit against ABC by the Wahl’s, click here.

Ingo Rademacher, Jasper "Jax" Jacks, General Hospital
Photo by Todd Wawrychuk/ABC

Meanwhile, Rademacher recently requested a hearing to quash a subpoena from ABC that was issued to the Protection of the Educational Rights of Kids (PERK) organization “on the grounds that the category of requested documents violate privacy rights and are irrelevant to this action.”

In a declaration submitted to the Los Angeles Superior Court on May 26, 2022, attorney Scott J. Street of JW/ Howard Attorneys, Ltd, the attorneys of record for plaintiff Rademacher, stated that on April 22, 2022, the law firm was served with a notice and copy of defendant ABC’s business records subpoena issued to the “non-party” organization.

The hearing is set for Thursday, September 8, 2022 at 9:00 a.m. or as soon thereafter. As for his lawsuit against ABC, a jury trial is currently on the docket for Monday, February 27, 2023.