‘General Hospital’ Crew Members Sue ABC Over Discrimination, Vaccine Mandate

by Suzanne Halliburton

Two former General Hospital crew members filed suit against ABC this week saying the network discriminated against them with their Covid vaccine mandate.

The two General Hospital crew members are Jim Wahl and Timothy Wahl. They’re father and son. The father led the soap opera’s construction and special effects department for 14 years. The son worked for the soap opera for a decade.

There already is a similar lawsuit working its way through the Los Angeles legal system. General Hospital fired Ingo Rademacher, who played Jasper Jax, for refusing the vaccine. Steve Burton, another fan favorite, also left General Hospital after refusing the jab. Burton played Jason Morgan. His character supposedly died in a tunnel collapse, although no one ever found his body. Burton has talked about returning to the show if ABC lifts the mandate.

Ingo Rademacher portrayed Jasper Jax on General Hospital since 1996. ABC fired him last year. Rademacher filed a lawsuit against ABC in (Christopher Polk/Getty Images for DATG)

General Hospital Crew Members Want Injunction, Unspecified Damages

According to the Wahl lawsuit, General Hospital fired the two crew members on Nov. 9. 2021. That was a month after Rademacher pleaded his case with the Human Resources department. The Wahl lawsuit said that they requested religious exemptions, but were denied.

The lawsuit stated that the network “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 suit also described the vaccine mandate as “unconstitutional.” The suit, which asks for an injunction and unspecified damages, said even if ABC did have the authority “it must offer religious exemptions to anybody who requests one.”

The suit claimed that ABC “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.”

Ingo Rademacher’s Lawyers Represent Crew Members

The same lawyers who represent the Wahls also filed suit on behalf of Rademacher. A judge set a court date for Feb. 27, 2023 for the Rademacher suit. Rademacher asked for an exemption in October. He said he was entitled to one “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.” ABC terminated him in early November.

Rademacher had appeared on General Hospital since 1996.

The soap opera, which is based in the fictional town of Port Charles, NY., premiered in 1963. Like the name implies, the focus of the soap opera is on General Hospital. However, the show has expanded far beyond a show about the love lives and other activities of the doctors and nurses. The wedding of Luke and Laura Spencer drew an audience of 30 million back in 1981. It was the most-watched soap opera episode in TV history. Rademacher’s character started on the show as a corporate raider butting heads with the Quartermaines, the richest family in town. He also was at odds with nemesis Sonny Corinthos, the local mob boss. But that all came to an end last fall when he refused the vaccine.