Is American Idol racist?
American Idol is being accused of racism in its contestant screening process, and a lawsuit against the show is imminent.
Nine African-American ex-contestants claim the show illegally discriminated against them.
Their lawyer, James Freeman, has petitioned the US Equal Opportunity Commission for permission to sue the show and the Fox Network, a preliminary step that is required by federal law.
International Business Times summarizes the racism allegations against American Idol:
“Corey Clark, Jaered Andrews, Donnie Williams, brothers Terrell Brittenum and Derrell Brittenum,Thomas Daniels, Akron Watson, Ju’Not Joyner and Chris Golightly insisted that they were targeted by producers of the Fox show who set out to humiliate them by making them audition and then disqualifying them due to their criminal records.”
According to TMZ, Attorney Freeman came to the conclusion that something was wrong with the way Idol disqualified potential contestants:
“In his letter, Freeman claims he noticed something fishy about Idol when Jermaine Jones was kicked off on March 15, 2012. Producers had claimed Jones failed to inform them about multiple outstanding warrants out for his arrest.
“Freeman claims he conducted an investigation into the show — and found that producers had only publicly disqualified 9 other people from the show since it first hit the air … and they all happened to be black.”
Freeman’s premise apparently is that his clients were employees of American Idol, and the show allegedly violated a California law that prohibits employers from asking applicants about their arrest history.
The attorney also claims that “none of the contestants who were disqualified from the show based on their criminal backgrounds were convicted of the crimes for which they were charged at the time of their disqualification.”
Nigel Lythgoe, American Idol‘s executive producer, rejected the allegations, saying that “we treat everybody the same… no matter the race, religion or sex.”
If a court determines that as a threshold matter, the rejected contestants lack employee status, however, it’s unlikely that the legal action could go forward at least based on that legal theory.
Do you think that American Idol should continue to run background checks on contestants?