As I mentioned yesterday, a group of Nashville residents led by Nathaniel Claybrooks and Christopher Johnson are bringing a class action lawsuit against the ABC dating competition series “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” for racial discrimination.
The lawsuit is based on alleged violations of civil rights laws.
The plaintiffs point out that since Civil Rights Act of 1866, federal law has guaranteed every person within the United States “the same right in every State and Territory to make and enforce contracts . . . as is enjoyed by white citizens . . . .”
The law, says the class action, “plainly prohibits whites from refusing to contract with African Americans because of their race.”
Johnson says he filled out an application to be on the show and showed up at a casting call, where he was allegedly stopped immediately by an employee for the show and asked why he was there. The employee took his application materials, according to the complaint, and said he’d pass it on. He was never contacted.
The lawsuit is also intended to have a broader social message. According to the complaint, “the deliberate exclusion of people of color from the roles of the Bachelor and Bachelorette underscores the significant barriers that people of color continue to face in media and the broader marketplace.”
The plaintiffs are asking for an order that would require producers to adopt appropriate policies and programs with their alleged legal obligations. The class action also seeks punitive damages and attorney’s fees.
ABC has declined comment on the dispute.
###################### APRIL 18, 2012 STORY BELOW ####################
Two African American football players Nathaniel Claybrooks and Christopher Johnson said Tuesday they will file a class-action lawsuit against the series ‘The Bachelor’ and ‘The Bachelorette’ for racial discrimination. The potential plaintiffs point out that over 10 years of the show and 23 seasons, the programs have not featured a single person of color as the featured Bachelor or Bachelorette.
Attorneys for the prospective plaintiffs released a news release saying they will be filing a complaint in federal court on Wednesday morning against ABC, production companies Warner Horizon Television, Next Entertainment, NZK Productions and Bachelor executive producer Mike Fleiss, and they have already scheduled a news conference.
Claybrooks and Johnson are both African Americans. Nathaniel Claybrooks is listed as a linebacker on the roster of the Nashville Storm, a minor-league team, while Johnson (not the star running back for the NFL’s Tennessee Titans) played wide receiver at Tennessee State and is preparing to tryout for NFL teams.
The lack of minority faces on the show has been a curiosity of some analysts even before this lawsuit, and some entertainment news outlets have even made suggestions. Groups representing African Americans and Hispanics have long complained about the shortage of lead minority actors on scripted shows, but the emergence of reality television was hoped to solve issues of diversity. As Nina Tasser, president of CBS Entertainment told the Los Angeles Times in 2009, “When you’re casting for an unscripted show, it’s a much bigger universe and a whole different talent base.”
According to sources, both plaintiffs attended a Nashville audition at a local hotel but claimed they were marginalized by organizers. They both claim that a producer questioned their attendance before leaving the two out of the normal audition process. Both believe their race led to the producer’s decision to not contact them following the audition.