The actor, 49, is accusing the companies of racial discrimination for not granting his request for a religious and medical exemption from their COVID vaccine mandate, according to court documents filed on Wednesday.
A source familiar with the lawsuit confirmed to ET that the actor “filed a 45 page Federal Discrimination lawsuit against the Walt Disney Company/20th Century FOX for racial and religious discrimination under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act regarding their vaccination accommodation process.” Dunbar portrayed Michael Grant for five seasons on 9-1-1 and was written off last year.
“It should be noted that this is not about the company’s right as a private entity to enact a mandatory vaccination policy, nor is it about vaccines,” the source says. “What this is about, are studios following federal law and honoring the agreement between the unions and producers in their ‘Return to Work’ protocols by affording each and every employee regardless of race/religion/medical disability, or sincerely held beliefs, the right to a fair, just, and equal interactive process free of the personal and political bias, discrimination and retaliation by those within the company assigned to oversee such processes.”
The source alleges that Dunbar was “denied this opportunity.”
“It is Mr. Dunbar’s hope that this lawsuit will bring to light the responsibility we all have to uphold the honored laws in this nation and will also serve as a reminder that there is no place or circumstance, even in a pandemic, where racial and religious discrimination should ever be accepted or encouraged,” the source adds.
In a statement, 20th Television stated: “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.”
Dunbar’s exit from the Fox show was announced in November after his character was written off during the Nov. 16 episode.
The actor confirmed his departure, telling Deadline, “I applied for religious and medical accommodations pursuant to the law and unfortunately was denied by my employer.”
“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. I’ve been an actor in this business for 30 years, but my greatest roles are as a husband and father to our four small children. As a man that walks in faith, I look forward to what the future holds,” he said. “I have enjoyed the last five seasons with this wonderful cast and crew and will cherish the time I’ve been blessed to spend with this series and wish everyone involved nothing but the best.”
Dunbar isn’t the only actor to recently speak out against vaccine mandates. General Hospital’s Ingo Rademacher is suing ABC over the network’s vaccine mandate.