Nine former African American American Idol contestants are now suing the show for allegedly being racist. The contestants claim that they were all booted from the show due to the producers engaging in a reportedly racist plot to boost ratings.
The African American contestants (who are all male) participating in the lawsuit are: Corey Clark (Season 2, picture below), Jaered Andrews (Season 2), Donnie Williams (Season 3), twin brothers Terrell Brittenum (Season 5) and Derrell Brittenum (Season 5), Thomas Daniels (Season 6), Akron Watson (Season 6), Ju’Not Joyner (Season 8) and Chris Golightly (Season 9).
The contestants are filing their case on behalf of NY attorney James H. Freeman. Freeman submitted a legal letter to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and asked for their permission to pursue the lawsuit. Freeman must file this group lawsuit with the EEOC before filing suit with the courts.
TMZ obtained the legal letter written by Freeman. The website detailed Freeman’s claims within the letter:
According to the letter, Freeman believes the annual “scheme” begins during the background check stage of the show — when producers ask wannabe contestants the question — “Have you ever been arrested?” Freeman claims the question is a violation of CA employment law … and since his clients were essentially applying for “employment” with Idol, the show was FORBIDDEN from asking contestants about their arrest history. But Freeman claims … the ill-gotten information from the question, coupled with arrest records obtained by private investigators working for Idol, were used to humiliate the black Idol contestants on national TV … and in the process, perpetuated “destructive stereotypes” about black people.
Freeman investigated the show after Jermaine Jones was disqualified in March 2012. Freeman thought something was up once the producers noted that Jones was kicked off the show for not telling them about his arrest warrants.
Freeman then discovered that the show only booted 9 other people since its first season began. Those 9 individuals just happened to be African American. He noted that the show has never publicly disqualified any white or non-African American contestants.
Freeman objected to releasing a copy of his lawsuit letter to The Daily News. He also spoke to them and revealed that he has no clue how the celebrity gossip site got the article:
I don’t know how they got it, but they got it. I’m not trying to litigate these claims through the press.
“American Idol” Executive Producer Nigel Lythgoe spoke to TMZ about the lawsuit’s allegation:
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.