A formal request to sue has been made to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) here in California on behalf of at least nine former American Idol contestants who believe they were the subjects of illegal discrimination based on race. The attorney for the ousted contestants claims that, over the show's 12 seasons, 10 would-be-starts were eliminated from the show because of problems with prior criminal history.
All 10 of those former contestants are African American. The show builds up each person's hopes and expectations only to humiliate them with expulsion after a thorough background check, according to the group's lawyer.
To make matters worse, of the contestants who were kicked off the show for an allegedly checkered past, none have actually been convicted of the criminal behavior that got them ousted in the first place, according to the singers' attorney.
The show denies that there is any pattern of discrimination among the singers who have been removed from the show. According to the show's producer, "[American Idol] treats everybody the same... no matter the race, religion or sex."
One issue that the group may have in proving discrimination based on race is that three African American contestants have won the entire competition, in different seasons. Most recently, Jordin Sparks took home the title of American Idol; she was preceded by Fantasia Barrino and Rueben Studdard.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter, "American Idol to Be Sued for Racism, Discrimination," January 25, 2013