Ten former contestants on American Idol have sued Fox, alleging that they and other African-American contestants were unfairly dismissed from the show because of their race. The suit alleges that, among other discriminatory behavior, Fox unlawfully acquired information about American Idol contestants' criminal records. However, though it surreptitiously collected the information for all of its contestants, Fox only ever used the information against African-American contestants – white contestants were given a free pass.
The complaint goes on to say that the information was even used as a ratings ploy, humiliating African-American contestants as the show intentionally drummed up controversy, such as when semifinalist Jermaine Jones was disqualified from season 11 of the show in 2012. In contrast, even if a white contestant's unsavory background came to light, he or she would not be dismissed or booted from the show like African-Americans would, but rather would be lauded with a storyline indicating they were “models of redemption.”
The 10 plaintiffs include
- Jared Andrews (season 2),
- Corey Clark (season 2),
- Jacob John Smalley (season 2),
- Donnie Williams (season 3),
- Terrell and Derrell Brittenum (season 5),
- Thomas Daniels (season 6),
- Akron Watson (season 6),
- Ju'Not Joyner (season 8)and
- Chris Golightly (season 9).
Jermaine Jones is not part of the suit.