As we reported 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. Read the complaint below.
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.
Warner Horizon Television, one of the defendants, gave us a statement:
"This complaint is baseless and without merit. In fact, we have had various participants of color throughout the series’ history, and the producers have been consistently — and publicly — vocal about seeking diverse candidates for both programs. As always, we continue to seek out participants of color for both 'The Bachelor' and 'The Bachelorette.'”
Here's the full complaint filed today in Tennessee federal court: