In a 429-page complaint filed Wednesday (but just posted to the online docket this morning) ten African-American American Idol contestants disqualified for prior arrests or crimes allege that the show unlawfully discriminated against them:
After illegally obtaining the contestants’ criminal background information through a process known as “contestant vetting,” the [defendants] chose to systematically disqualify and publicly humiliate – with maximum fanfare – virtually every top-ranking Black American Idol contestant who had a record of arrest (no matter how petty the alleged crime and no matter whether there was a conviction or an acquittal). . . . . In stark contrast, whenever the criminal arrest records of top-ranking White American Idol contestants were made public – which was quite rare – the White contestants were championed as models of redemption. It didn’t matter whether they had been convicted for armed bank robbery and spent four years in prison, or whether they were convicted on charges of felony drug possession. Such crimes were labeled as “youthful indiscretion” and the White contestants’ participation in the American Idol contest was promoted as a “second chance” to turn their life around. And it sure did: most of the White American Idol Contestants whose criminal backgrounds were publicized (at least 7 out of 9) ended up scoring Major record deals and/or respectable careers in the music industry.
The case is before Judge Buchwald.