The producers of one of America’s most popular reality TV competition shows “American Idol” are being sued by nine former contestants for alleged racism, according to TMZ. The past performers from various seasons allege they were given the boot as part of a racist plot to boost ratings for the Fox network.
The singers hired New York attorney James H. Freeman who has reportedly submitted a letter to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), asking permission to sue “Idol” and Fox on behalf of his clients. The nine performers who are filing the suit are Corey Clark (Season 2), Jaered Andrews (Season 2), Donnie Williams (Season 3), Terrell Brittenum (Season 5), Derrell Brittenum (Season 5), Thomas Daniels (Season 6), Akron Watson (Season 6), Ju’Not Joyner (Season 8), and Chris Golightly (Season 9).
Watch Clark sing here:
According to Freeman, his curiosity about “American Idol’s potential racist practices piqued after contestant Jermaine Jones was dropped from the show last year for allegedly concealing a criminal record and outstanding warrants from producers. The probing attorney contends that the show’s producer’s had only publicly disqualified nine people from the show and they all happened to be Black.
Watch news coverage of Jones getting dropped here:
Freeman also contends that the alleged racist practices begin with the screening process, when producers are said to ask contestants if they had ever been arrested. The lawyer says the arrest question is a violation of California employment law because the contestants are applying for a job with “Idol” so to speak; therefore, the producers are legally not allowed to inquire about criminal histories.
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The attorney says the arrest questions coupled with the criminal records obtained by private investigators are not only used to humiliate Black “Idol” contestants publicly, but are also negative devices that help create Black “destructive stereotypes.”
Watch Ju’Not Joyner perform here:
The nine contestants were made out to be “violent criminals, liars and sexual deviants,” according to Freeman, who also points out that historically, “Idol” has never disqualified a White or other ethnic minority in its 11-season history.
“Idol” executive producer Nigel Lythgoe fired back at the attorney’s allegations by stating he was “shocked” by them and also referred to the accusations as “ridiculous.” Lythgoe contends, “We treat everybody the same… no matter the race, religion, or sex. I think we’ve always had a fantastic share of talent from contestants both Black and White…. I don’t think I’ve ever seen racism at the show.”
And now the waiting game, Freeman will file the intended lawsuit with the courts as soon as the EEOC gives him the green light.