LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Former "Deadwood" actor Brent Sexton is suing Apple LLC, alleging the company rescinded an offer to have him star in a new series because he declined to take the coronavirus vaccine due to medical reasons, costing him nearly $600,000.
Sexton's Los Angeles Superior Court disability discrimination suit seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages. An Apple representative did not immediately reply to a request for comment on the suit brought Monday.
Apple corporate and retail store employees were not required to be vaccinated against the coronavirus if they underwent required testing, but Apple Studios "trampled the rights" of those who worked for the Los Angeles- based subsidiary that produces content for Apple's new streaming service, Apple TV+, the suit states. Anyone who worked on an Apple TV+ production was required to get the shot and submit proof, the suit states.
Sexton believes the subsidiary "bowed to pressure from the entertainment industry, one of the most aggressive proponents of universal COVID vaccination," according to the suit.
In February 2022, Sexton submitted a self-tape audition to play President Andrew Johnson on "Manhunt," a miniseries that Apple Studios is producing, which focuses on the U.S. government's search for President Lincoln's assassin, John Wilkes Booth.
Sexton was granted the role a week later and Apple offered him a deal worth nearly $600,000 and incentives with a seven-episode minimum, the suit states. But after accepting the deal, Sexton was told he would have to comply with the vaccination policy despite its potential negative impact on his longtime medical problem of a platelet deficiency, the suit states. He requested an accommodation for regular coronavirus testing and included a note from his doctor in support, the suit adds.
Apple allegedly did not question the legitimacy of Sexton's request, but denied his accommodation request within 48 hours and withdrew the job offer.
Georgia, where "Manhunt" was to be filmed, had outlawed mandatory coronavirus vaccination policies in public employment and encouraged private employers to provide testing and other substitutes to unvaccinated people, but Apple Studios ignored that and didn't support the company's hardship claim, the suit states.
Sexton and his union were willing to pay for coronavirus testing and he would have indemnified Apple for any illness he caught on the set, the suit states.
"He just wanted to work," the suit states.