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'American Idol'

Accused of RACISM

by 9 Black Ex-Contestants

1/25/2013 7:00 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
EXCLUSIVE

0124_idol_9_launch
Nine black former "American Idol" contestants -- from various seasons -- are banding together to SUE the show ... claiming they were all FORCED off "Idol" as part of a racist (and illegal) plot to boost ratings. 

TMZ has obtained a letter, submitted to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission by NY attorney James H. Freeman -- in which he asks for permission to sue Idol and FOX on behalf of his clients ... who have all appeared on the show: FYI, Freeman is required to file with the EEOC before filing suit.

Corey Clark (Season 2), Jaered Andrews (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).

In his letter, Freeman claims he noticed something fishy about "Idol" when Jermaine Jones was kicked off on March 15, 2012. Producers had claimed Jones failed to inform them about multiple outstanding warrants out for his arrest. 

Freeman claims he conducted an investigation into the show -- and found that producers had only publicly disqualified 9 other people from the show since it first hit the air ... and they all happened to be black.

Freeman now alleges that "Idol" has been conducting a "cruel and inhumane" scheme to exploit and humiliate black contestants for ratings.

According to the letter, Freeman believes the annual "scheme" begins during the background check stage of the show -- when producers ask wannabe contestants the question -- "Have you ever been arrested?"

Freeman claims the question is a violation of CA employment law ... and since his clients were essentially applying for "employment" with Idol, the show was FORBIDDEN from asking contestants about their arrest history.

But Freeman claims ... the ill-gotten information from the question, coupled with arrest records obtained by private investigators working for Idol, were used to humiliate the black Idol contestants on national TV ... and in the process, perpetuated "destructive stereotypes" about black people.

Freeman also claims the show made his clients appear to be "violent criminals, liars and sexual deviants" ... when they weren't.

What's more ... Freeman claims the show has "NEVER once publicly disqualified a white or non-black American Idol contestant in the history of the eleven season production."

According to Freeman, NONE of the contestants who were disqualified from the show based on their criminal backgrounds were convicted of the crimes for which they were charged at the time of their disqualification.

But Freeman adds, "Yet their personal and professional lives remain permanently and severely impaired by [the show's] continuing violations of our nation's laws."

Freeman's letter is the first step towards a lawsuit -- and we're told as soon as he gets the green light from the EEOC, he plans to file the docs in court.

We spoke to "Idol" honcho Nigel Lythgoe ... who tells us he was "shocked" by the "ridiculous" allegations.

He explained, "We treat everybody the same ... no matter the race, religion or sex."

"I think we've always had a fantastic share of talent from contestants both black and white ... I don't think I've ever seen racism at the show."

A rep for FOX declined to comment.

FYI -- "Idol" has had 3 African-American winners in its history -- Ruben Studdard, Fantasia Barrino and Jordin Sparks.

789 COMMENTS

No Avatar
286.

Truth    

LMFAO An Ocuppy Wall Street lawyer is suing American Idol? LMFAO

550 days ago
287.

Kimberly    

Give me a break! ReGodDamnDiculas

550 days ago
288.

Kenneth34    

These ******s r full of ****

550 days ago
289.

Bonnie    

SORE LOSERS! GET A DAMN JOB AND STOP LOOKING FOR A HANDOUT!!!!!!

550 days ago
290.

shel    

**** yall.

550 days ago
291.

shel    

Its mainly bitches like Bonnie, betty, Bob, billy grandpa jo, old crusted ass evil white people

550 days ago
292.

Nikki    

So, you commit crimes, are dishonest, or bring scandal to the show and it's the white producers' fault? Yeah, ok.

550 days ago
293.

Purple Label    

It simply amazes me that so many people here continue to comment on well there's three Black judges, their suing because they didn't win, there have been Black winners in the past. they are sore losers- None of this is at the basis of the 9 complainants allegations. The crux of their allegations is this- Did Idol treat Whites who had criminal records and or convictions more favorably than their Black counterparts? Did they allow Whites to continue through the process after discovering that they had criminal records and or convictions.

All of your hatred for Blacks, President Obama, welfare, suing to make a buck, Blacks creating stereotypes, this is why people hate Blacks means nothing under the law.

In the words of Joe Friday from Dragnet "Just the Facts Mam"

550 days ago
294.

Sophie    

Is it sad to say that I don't remember any of these guys?

550 days ago
295.

Lydia    

Why isn't Jermaine Jones in the lawsuit? I was sad to see him go but rules are rules.

On March 14, 2012, Jones was disqualified from American Idol for concealing arrests and outstanding warrants.[8] He denied that he had concealed his previous arrests, and had admitted that he had been arrested before.[9] Critics accused the show of staging the disqualification to boost ratings.[10] When asked about speculations that producers had prior knowledge of his criminal past and that the producers were simply out to exploit him on-air, Jones replied that "I haven't even taken my mind into that and why they did what they did, because then I'll drive myself crazy".[11] A police official in a New Jersey town he was the target of two arrest warrants said that the case wasn't big enough to merit going after him,[12] and that for the show "to expose, embarrass and interrogate a young man without an attorney in front of 40 million viewers was an outrage".[13]

On July 31, 2012, Jones pleaded guilty to the charges.

550 days ago
296.

Caryn_campbell    

thats just stupid since Ruben stutter is black and he won!! obviously they suck and they all happend to be black lol

550 days ago
297.

Ken     

Wonder why there is still racism ? **** LIKE THIS

550 days ago
298.

Larry    

Hasn't the guy Corey tried suing them before?

550 days ago
299.

LISA    

TMZ - Please STOP completely rewriting your articles. If you screwed up or got more info - do an UPDATE.


When you do that, many comments do not make sense anymore. NOT NICE! Especially since it is our comments that made you realize you left out important info our got facts wrong!

550 days ago
300.

Kraken    

And THIS is why no one takes racism claims seriously anymore. Constant abuse.

550 days ago
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