Reality shows just got a lot realer as two black men have sued the popular relationship reality show The Bachelor for something that for lack of a better term might be called contestant discrimination, reportsThe Assoicated Press.
Nathaniel Claybrooks and Christopher Johnson both believed that they were good, solid, charming contestants, who simply were not given a fair shot at getting picked due to their race. They are alleging that reality show racism led the producers to give more time to white contestants.
Mssrs. Claybrooks and Johnson both believe that their exclusion had to do with race. And both men want to be clear that while they recognize that The Bachelor has had minorities on the show before, what is being identified here is the fact that there have not been any minorities chosen for the main role.
Reality show discrimination raises interesting legal questions, the first of which is whether getting an interview for a reality show is in any way similar to getting a job interview. If it is, then some of the analyses applicable to racial discrimination in regular hiring would apply to The Bachelor lawsuit.
Being a reality show star cannot be likened to most other kinds of jobs; but one job it comes close to is being an NFL football head coach. That is another area where white men have been the majority of those that are selected, a result that eventually gave rise to a form of affirmative action rule called the Rooney Rule. Where there is race-based selection, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission permits affirmative action programs that “overcome the effects of past or present practices, policies, or other barriers to equal employment opportunity.” In effect, you’re allowed to consider color if that helps overcome past discrimination.
In other words, while Nathaniel Claybrooks and Christopher Johnson may not be able to convince a court that they, individually, should have gotten a chance to be The Bachelor, they may be able to create a discussion that highlights the fact that in the however many shows The Bachelor has put on, it has not selected a minority as the lead. Their lawsuit highlights the fact that while there can be a black president, there has not yet been a black bachelor.
If you are applying for a position in an unusual field that has been dominated by individuals from a singular race, you should definitely speak to a local attorney.
- Find a Houston Employment Law attorney (FindLaw)
- The Bachelor Lawsuit Racial Discrimination (Hollywood Esq)
- Are Employers Required to Have Affirmative Action Plans? (FindLaw)