‘Bachelor’ Threatened With Racial Discrimination Lawsuit, Experts Weigh In

April 17, 2012 – In The News
Entertainment Weekly
Two African-American football players from Nashville plan on filing a class action lawsuit against ABC’s The Bachelor on behalf of “all persons of color who have applied for the role of The Bachelor or Bachelorette but have been denied the equal opportunity for selection on the basis of race.” The two football players, Nathaniel Claybrooks and Christopher Johnson, noted in a release that “Over a combined total of 23 seasons [on television], neither show has ever had a Bachelor or Bachelorette of color.”

Jeffrey S. Kravitz, co-chair of the firm’s Media, Defamation & Privacy Practice, spoke to Entertainment Weekly about the unprecedented lawsuit. Kravitz said, “I’ve watched that [area of law] like a hawk, and I haven’t seen a case like this before.”

The facts on the potential case are still unclear and there is a major stumbling block since neither man has ever been a contestant on the show. Even if Johnson and Claybrooks had been contestants, though, “When you sign up on a reality TV show, you do not sign up as an employee – you sign up as an independent contractor,” said Kravitz. Furthermore, Kravitz believes, “They’re likely going to sue for civil rights violations or perhaps claim that they’re de facto employees…[but] the case law is all over the board in terms of that across the country.”

The potential case will ultimately be up to ABC to prove that they made a good faith effort to recruit contestants of color. “If the [production company] says, ‘We interviewed x number of minority candidates,’ they’re going to be in better standing than if they only interviewed one,” said Kravitz. “They’re going to be in better standing if they can show a history of enrollment of minority candidates than if they can’t. Beyond that, they don’t control who the Bachelor or Bachelorette picks.”

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