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American Idol Sued for Racism by 10 Black Former Contestants

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First Posted: Jul 26, 2013 07:38 AM EDT
American Idol
(Photo : Reuters)

Former American Idol contestants are suing Fox and the TV show for racism. Reports say ten black contestants from different "Idol" seasons are claiming that they were booted out of the competition because of their race. The plaintiffs are now asking $25 million each in damages.

The news initially broke in January when TMZ reported that nine former hopefuls had banded together to sue the show, claiming they were "forced off 'Idol' as part of a racist (and illegal) plot to boost ratings," the entertainment news site noted.

In the report, New York attorney James H. Freeman submitted a letter to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission asking for permission to sue the TV network and American Idol in behalf of the nine former contestants.

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In his letter, he noted that since the show's inception some 11 years ago, only 10 people were disqualified from the show and all of them are Black Americans. Freeman also called the show "cruel and inhumane."

The attorney also noted that the mere question "Have you ever been arrested?" is already against the CA employment law.

"Since his clients were essentially applying for 'employment' with Idol, the show was FORBIDDEN from asking contestants about their arrest history," TMZ noted.

Freeman also claimed that the show has illegally obtained records of arrest for the ten participants that were used to make them appear as "violent criminals, liars and sexual deviants."

"[American Idol] NEVER once publicly disqualified a white or non-black American Idol contestant in the history of the eleven season production," the letter wrote.

According to Entertainment Weekly, the ten plaintiffs include Corey Clark, Jaered Andrews and Jacob John Smalley from season 2; Donnie Williams from season 3; Derrell Brittenum and Terrell Brittenum from season 5; Thomas Daniels and Akron Watson from season 6; Ju'Not Joyner from season 8; and Chris Golightly from season 9.

So far, EW contacted Freeman, but he has declined to comment on the issue which is already pending litigation. American Idol also refused to comment on the issue.

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