'American Idol' discrimination lawsuit continues

By Marie Blake,

Ten former African American contestants of American Idol are filing a lawsuit for discrimination.

In July, TMZ reported that 10 American Idol contestants from various seasons are filing a lawsuit after claiming they were disqualified unfairly. They are demanding $25 million each.

They claim producers illegally dug up arrest records and used the information to humiliate them on television.

The 10 contestants are Corey Clark (Season 2), Jaered Andrews (Season 2), Jacob John Smalley (Season 2), Donnie Williams (Season 3), Terrell Brittenum (Season 5), Derrell Brittenum (Season 5), Thomas Daniels (Season 6), Akron Watson (Season 6), Ju'Not Joyner (Season 8), and Chris Golightly (Season 9).

Of the criminal charges which the 10 contestants were arrested for, none led to convictions. Their lawyer, James Freeman, believes the show used the information to make them look like violent criminals and liars.

Freeman also stated the white contestants who had troubled pasts were treated as "models of redemption," ABC News reports.

These contestants include:

Bo Bice (Season 4) - Arrested for felony cocaine possession; came in second place and is signed with RCA.

Scott Savol (Season 4) - Arrested on misdemeanor assault charges, FOX let him continue due to a dropped charge and his honesty. He made it to the top five.

Stefano Langone (Season 10) - Arrested on suspicion of DUI and pleaded guilty to a lesser charge. He made it to the final seven.

Casey James (Season 9) - Had numerous tickets, a DUI, and reckless driving. He made it to the top three.

Taylor Hicks (Season 5) - Arrested for marijuana possession. He won Season 5.

American Idol, FOX, and the show's production company, 19 Entertainment, hired Daniel Petrocelli, the attorney who successfully sued O.J. Simpson, according to Good Morning America.

FOX and the show's producers deny any act of discrimination and argue that four out of the 12 winners were black or bi-racial.

Five months after the contestants filed the racial discrimination charge, the government commission allowed the plaintiffs to pursue the lawsuit in court. However, in order to prove the discrimination, the plaintiffs must prove that they were employees of the show, since asking an employee or employee applicant about previous arrests (as opposed to asking about convictions) is a violation of California law.

American Idol said that they were "contestants on a reality singing competition, not employees..."

Frenchie Davis, a semi-finalist in the second season, took to Facebook after hearing about the lawsuit.

"American Idol WOULD NOT HAVE DISQUALIFIED ME IF I WERE WHITE. PERIOD. I don't care how many Black winners they've had," Davis said. "I was up front and honest with the producers about my past, and they waited for MONTHS to kick me off the show ... then they LIED and made it seem like it was something they DISCOVERED, when they had known all along."

American Idol producers argued that they use background checks to make sure that contestants who may become finalists have no legal issues that might "interfere" with or "embarrass" the show.

Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia

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