Reality show American Idol has been making headlines for all of the wrong reasons lately. There’s the highly publicized bickering between hosts, the show’s unfortunate decline in ratings, and now, this. TMZ is reporting that nine former American Idol contestants who were all disqualified during past seasons have teamed up to sue the show, each of them claiming that their elimination was a result of a racially charged plot to increase the show’s ratings.
New York attorney James H. Freeman, who has assumed the role as the legal representative of the ex-contestants submitted a letter to United States Equal Opportunity Commission requesting permission to sue the show and parent channel FOX on behalf of the ex-contestants.
The letter reveals that Freeman was moved to investigate the singing competition’s shady practices when contestant Jermaine Jones was booted off of the show in March of 2012 due to outstanding warrants that producers expressed they were unaware of. In his research, he found that the show had only publicly disqualified nine other contestants, all of them being Black.
The attorney says that these public disqualifications are all a part of Idol’s “cruel and inhumane” efforts to disgrace and humiliate Black contenders on national television and bolster negative stereotypes about Black people in the media. He also expressed that this process actually begins when the show first starts auditioning for the year and producers ask contestants “Have you ever been arrested?”
Freeman says these practices are in direct violation of the CA Employment law. SHouse Law Group’s website reads:
“The California Labor Code2 and the California Code of Regulations3 provide that for the most part private employers are not supposed to ask job applicants about arrests that did not lead to convictions.”
He also claims that the show falsely portrayed his clients as ”violent criminals, liars and sexual deviants”.
The contestants who will be suing in this case include: Corey Clark of season two, Jaered Andrews of season two, Donnie Williams of season three, Terrell and Derrell Brittenum of season five, Thomas Daniels of season six, Akron Watson of season six, Ju’Not Joyner of season eight (photographed above) and Chris Golightly of season nine.
Have you witnessed the disqualification of any of the contestants involved in this case? Would you say they were racially motivated?
Jazmine Denise is a news writer for Madame Noire. Follow her on Twitter @jazminedenise