In a heart wrenching disability discrimination lawsuit filed today in LA Superior Court, William Pavlu detailed how he was dropped from a Universal TV produced HBO Max show as a chief rigging technician late last year after being afflicted with Covid-19. Literally told in the hospital on December 14, 2020 by First Unit Gaffer Chris Faulkner, according to the 15-page document, that he wasn’t going to be returning to the then titled Hacks project for the AT&T-owned streamer.
This harsh response came 10 days after Pavlu says he got sick and a week after the Unit Production Manager on the Jean Smart starrer “assured Plaintiff that he would not be fired for taking leave for Covid.” After being told by Faulkner that he was fired from the project, Palvu texted UPM Melanie Bukowski:
So, last week when I spoke with you, you assured me I wasn’t being fired for getting Covid. Today I’m in the hospital. My Lungs are filled up. 2 of my guys have went to the hospital this last week. We are all out on Covid. Today I get a text saying we are all let go from the gaffer. So I Have to tell my whole crew that this is our for Covid, and right before Christmas we’re all fired because of the virus. This is probably the most messed up thing any production has done to me. Or I’ve heard of. Words don’t describe how I feel about you guys right now.
The Michael Malk represented Pavlu then adds that not only did Bukowski never respond to that text, but also didn’t reply in late January when the now recovered crew member sought to come on to the Paramount lot to retrieve the more than $10,000 in tools that he was using on the show. Not only did Palvu lose the rental revenue the Jen Statsky EP’d show was paying him for the gear, but the actual tools themselves were stolen subsequently.
As well as working on the untitled HBO Max project, Palvu also worked over at CBS Radford on AppleTV+’s Mythic Quest, which was hit hard with over two dozen crew members infected by Covid. Tellingly, Palvu is not suing Mythic Quest producers Lionsgate.
The studio he is suing, Universal TV did not respond to request for comment today on the lawsuit.
Palvu’s four claim jury trial seeking complaint aims for a “declaratory judgment that Defendants violated California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act” as well as a wide range of unspecified damages & the $10,300 value of his missing tools.