Nine African-American applicants to the coveted title of American Idol are suing for being wrongly disqualified. They claim the decision was racially motivated.
Corey Clark (Season 2), Jaered Andrews (Season 2), Donnie Williams (Season 3), Terrell Brittenum (Season 5), Thomas Daniels (Season 6), Akron Watson (Season 6), Ju’Not Joyner (Season 8), and Chris Golightly (Season 9) have filed the suit.
News One reports that the former contestants have hired legal counsel. James H. Freeman complained to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and requested their approval in order to continue with a lawsuit.
Freeman argues that, in all American Idol history, which spans over 11 seasons, none of the applicants that were disqualified were white, nor did they pertain to another ethnic minority.
They were all African-Americans, are all of them were allegedly intentionally made to appear “violent criminals” and “liars.”
All 9 were booted out because they hid having a criminal record. However, California employment law bans employers from inquiring about potential workers' records.
In this case, Freeman alleges that the contestants' stay on the show equates a job application, training period included.
“We treat everybody the same… no matter the race, religion. [...] 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,” Nigel Lythgoe, executive producer with the show, responds.
He dismisses the allegations as “ridiculous,” and goes on to say that he is “shocked” that anyone could hold their disqualification policy against them.
In addition to protesting about the applicants' screening process, Freeman complains about how the announcement that they were off the show was made.
He claims that denouncing them as felons on public television is not only traumatizing, but it creates “destructive stereotypes.”