“American Idol” sued for racial discrimination

Employers are constantly judging their employees to make sure an employee is working up to the standards of the company. Often an employer is judging every aspect of its employees to see if they are good enough. While performance reviews may be common, there are some parts about employees that employers cannot take into consideration.

In particular, it is illegal under employment laws to use an employee’s religion, race, gender, sexual orientation or national origin as part of an evaluation of that employee. In other words, employers cannot discriminate against employees in the hiring, firing, promoting or during any evaluation of an employee.

The reality show, and television hit, “American Idol” has recently been sued in California. Former contestants claim that they were subject to workplace discrimination while competing on the signing show. According to these African American contestants, the show used information in their background — like arrest records — to disqualify them from the show. These former contestants say that 31 percent of African American contestants have been disqualified from the show for reasons other than their singing voice. However, no white contestants have ever been disqualified because of their arrest records.

Producers of the show, on the other hand, deny that any discrimination took place. They argue instead that 33 percent of the winners have actually been biracial or African American. Furthermore, the producers of the show argue that these former contestants do not actually have legal protections against discrimination since they were merely contestants and not employees.

This case is likely to continue in the California courts for some time. It is important because it reminds employees that racial discrimination occurs in California workplaces and that people have protections against this type of treatment.

Source: ABC News, “‘American Idol’ Discrimination Suit Moves Forward,” Luchina Fisher, Sept. 23, 2013

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