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CHICAGO — A federal judge has pulled the plug on an actor’s discrimination lawsuit involving a casting company that secures extras for NBC’s television series “Chicago Med.”
Fred Nance Jr., who worked as an extra on the show, sued Empire Casting, NBCUniversal Media, Universal Television, Open 4 Business Productions and Joan Philo’s Casting, alleging the employers discriminated against him based on his age, sex and race.
In an opinion issued July 29, U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber of the Northern District of Illinois granted one motion for summary judgment on behalf of Empire and a second collective motion for summary judgment on behalf of the other defendants.
Nance alleged he was fired from his role as a core extra — one who appears in several episodes — during the second season of “Chicago Med” while white and female actors kept their jobs. Leinenweber noted Nance was accused of physically threatening other actors, but Nance alleged some of the other actors were not disciplined for similar conduct.
Leinenweber ruled Nance “cannot establish that any of his comparators were indeed similarly situated,” that he didn’t present evidence a white male actor “was ever accused of threatening or ‘bullying’ him. Nor can he point to any evidence in the record that shows the other white extras he names … threatened people on the 'Chicago Med' set but were not disciplined or terminated as Nance was.”
Even if Nance’s allegations were more founded, Leinenweber added, “the defendants have set forth a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for firing him: that the Universal defendants’ investigation found Nance to have violated NBCUniversal’s policy against threats of violence and intimidating words.”
Leinenweber said Nance’s allegations of disparate treatment failed for similar lack of substantive evidence. He also explained Nance forfeited his claim of retaliation in violation of the Equal Pay Act by failing make any related arguments in his final response brief. Further, the judge noted, the complaint Nance filed with the Illinois Department of Labor concerns only late or unpaid wages, not gender-based pay discrimination.
Nance represented himself in the case.
Defendants were represented by attorneys Michael L. Tracy, of Chicago, and Aaron R. Gelb, of the firm of Conn Maciel Carey LLP.