A little over a month after the veteran “General Hospital” actor Ingo Rademacher left his leading role at the medical drama for refusing to comply with the production’s vaccine mandate, the actor is suing the network for forcing “medical treatment to its employees against their will,” according to reports including Deadline, People and Rolling Stone.
“ABC’s actions are blatantly unlawful,” reads court documents obtained by Deadline and filed Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court. The court documents claim the network “does not have authority to force a medical treatment to its employees against their will… These actions constitute religious discrimination and violate Mr. Rademacher’s rights under state and federal law.”
According to People, the documents state Rademacher sent an email to Disney’s human resources department in October that argued he was “entitled to a religious exemption against mandatory vaccination for COVID-19 on the basis of my deeply and sincerely held moral belief that my body is endowed by my creator with natural processes to protect me and that its natural integrity cannot ethically be violated by the administration of artificially created copies of genetic material, foreign to nature and experimental.”
The court documents filed on behalf of Rademacher’s attorneys, Scott J. Street and John M. Howard, state he was then subjected to “half an hour of cross-examination about his religious beliefs” and was “denied his exemption request, without explanation.”
USA TODAY has reached out to ABC, Rademacher’s representatives and lawyers.
Another ‘General Hospital’ exit:Steve Burton confirms departure from medical drama over vaccine mandate: This ‘hurts’
At the time of his exit, Rademacher addressed the news in an Instagram video promising fans to “get back in touch with everybody” to “fill you guys on what’s happening.”
On Dec. 5, he took to Instagram to share an “official video to say that I’m no longer on the show,” Rademacher said. “I’m sorry I didn’t put this video out earlier but this is about thanking you guys, the fans of the show, and also the ‘General Hospital’ crew and cast.”
“They were like my family, a lot of the people there and I was hoping I could play Jax for another 10 or 25 years and unfortunately that’s not going to happen obviously,” the actor said.
Rademacher has played the character “Jax” on “General Hospital” since 1996. He has been a regular on the daytime medical drama for 25 of its 59 seasons and has appeared in a total of 1,312 episodes. In 1996, he also starred in the TV movie “General Hospital: Twist of Fate.”
In the video earlier this month, Rademacher also referenced “medical freedom,” citing that “if you want to go and get the vaccine, get the vaccine. If you think it’s going to protect you, that’s great. But you should be able to make that choice.”
“I don’t agree with vaccine mandates, obviously, you already know that,” Rademacher said. “I don’t agree with corporations ever, ever, being able to mandate a vaccine to keep your job, to keep your livelihood. A lot of people were coerced and forced into taking the jab otherwise they would lose everything, that’s coercion. That’s not freedom of choice at all.”
According to the lawsuit, per Rolling Stone, Rademacher states: “There is no need for everybody to get the COVID-19 shot, even if the president demands it.”
Following Rademacher’s exit, fellow “General Hospital” veteran, Steve Burton, announced on Instagram Nov. 23 he was let go from the ABC show because he didn’t comply with the production’s COVID-19 vaccination requirement. A person familiar with the situation but not authorized to speak publicly about Burton’s departure confirmed the news to USA TODAY, adding that his last episode was filmed on Oct. 27.
“I wanted you to hear it from me personally,” said Burton, who’s portrayed Jason Morgan since 1991. “Unfortunately, ‘General Hospital’ has let me go because of the vaccine mandate. I did apply for my medical and religious exemptions, and both of those were denied. Which, you know, hurts. But this is also about personal freedom to me.”
Burton has portrayed Jason Morgan on “General Hospital” from 1991 to 2012 and 2017 to the present. Burton returned as Morgan after a five-year stint on CBS’ “The Young and the Restless” from 2013 to 2017 and played Morgan in the “General Hospital” spin-off “Night Shift,” which lasted two seasons.
The 51-year-old continued: “I don’t think anybody should lose their livelihood over this.”
Contributing: Cydney Henderson