Trial proceedings are going underway against the “American Idol” television show initiated by ten former black contestants who argue the show’s producers discriminated against them while they were participants. The producers, apparently, used the ten contestants past criminal records/arrests to disqualify them from participating in the contest.
An article reports the lawsuit states, “thirty-one percent of all semi-finalists who were black males were disqualified for reasons ‘unrelated to their singing talent.’” The lawsuit also adds, “there has never been a single white (or non-black) contestant disqualified from ‘American Idol’—not ever.”
The producers from the TV show deny any claims of discriminating against contestants, pointing out that four of the past twelve winners of “American Idol” have been black or bi-racial.
The case is messy though—in order for the plaintiffs to prove discrimination, they must first prove that they were employees of the show since it is illegal to ask employees about previous arrests under California law. If the plaintiffs’ attorneys can prove that Fox considered the contestants as employees, they can prove that the producers were in violation of California law. “Idol” has denied claims of their contestants being employees—rather, contestants are legally referred to as “volunteers” or “licensors.”
Although I am sure that this case will settle before it goes to court, I am interested to hear what happens. From the outside looking in, it is rather odd that so many black contestants have been disqualified for reasons “unrelated to their singing talent” and absolutely no white contestants have been disqualified. If anything, I’m sure this lawsuit will bring to light concerns of discrimination and will make producers more aware of the issue.