American Idol contestants claim racial discrimination. Do they have a case?
Freeman also claims that the show has never "publicly disqualified a white or non-black American Idol contestant in the history of the eleven season production," according to the letter.
Gloria Allred, a founding partner of law firm Allred, Maroko and Goldberg in Los Angeles, has been practicing discrimination law in California for more than 30 years and says that in order for the contestants to win the potential lawsuit, it would first need to be established that "Idol" is, in fact, an employer.
"This is not a traditional employment application situation," Ms. Allred says. "If they can show that 'Idol' disqualified African Americans because of their arrest records, they may be able to establish a violation."
But legal precedent, at least outside of California, indicates that it may be difficult to prove that American Idol was their employer.
Last year, two black men tried to sue another reality TV show, "The Bachelor," for racial discrimination. The class-action lawsuit got thrown out of a Tennessee court because the judge, US District Court Judge Aleta Trauger, said that contestants on the show are being cast, not hired, and that casting for TV, movies, and plays is constitutionally protected by the First Amendment as free speech. The court decided that "Bachelor" casting is not racially biased, but even if it were, it would be legal.