Apple Studios might have discriminated against Brent Sexton when it pulled an offer for him to star in Manhunt after he refused the COVID-19 vaccine due to potential health complications, a judge has ruled, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Linfield declined Apple’s move to dismiss the lawsuit on free speech grounds, finding that the company’s mandatory vaccination policy may have been unconstitutional. The order issued on Oct. 19 marks one of the few rulings advancing a lawsuit from an actor who took issue with a studio’s refusal to provide accommodations for refusing to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
“There is a significant difference between the government using its police power to require vaccinations and a company implementing a policy that required vaccinations (without any alternative, and of its own volition) as a condition of employment,” stated the order.
Last May Sexton sued Apple Studios, claiming the company rescinded an offer for him to star in a new series because he wouldn’t take a COVID vaccination due to medical reasons. He says this cost him nearly US$600,000. In February 2022, Sexton submitted a self-tape audition to play President Andrew Johnson in “Manhunt,” an upcoming Apple TV+ miniseries that focuses on the U.S. government’s search of John Wilkes Booth, after he assassinated President Lincoln.
His disability discrimination suit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages. Sexton’s suit says he suffers from a platelet deficiency, but Apple still demanded he takes the COVID-19 vaccination, despite the risk to his health.