Former American Idol contestant Corey Clark is suing Fox again… and this time, he’s not alone.
EW has confirmed that 10 onetime Idol hopefuls — including 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) — have banded together to file a suit against the singing series.
The plaintiffs claim that they were treated unfairly — and kicked off the show unjustly — because they all happen to be black. TMZ first reported the news.
The suit’s story began in January, when New York City lawyer James H. Freeman submitted a letter on behalf of the group to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In it, Freeman claimed that Idol‘s producers have only publicly disqualified 10 contestants in the show’s history, all of whom are African-American.
Furthermore, Freeman wrote, the show illegally dug up arrest histories for those 10 men, using them to humiliate the singers — but never attempted to dig up similar dirt about white contestants. Allegedly, only black contestants were questioned about their criminal histories.
Freeman called these actions “cruel and inhumane,” accusing Idol of exploiting black contestants, perpetuating “destructive stereotypes,” and making them appear to be “violent criminals, liars, and sexual deviants” — though none of the 10 men he represents had been convicted of charges stemming from their arrests.
Each plaintiff seeks $25 million, minimum, in damages.
When contacted by EW, Freeman said that his office does not comment on pending litigation. A rep for American Idol has no comment.