Ryan Seacrest

Ten black former American Idol contestants from various seasons have filed a lawsuit against the show, claiming that they were eliminated from the competition due to a racist ratings scheme, TMZ.com reports.

The plaintiffs — including Corey Clark (Season 2), Jaered Andrews (Season 2), Jacob John Smalley (Season 2), Donnie Williams (Season 3), Terrell Brittenum (Season 5), Derrell Brittenum (Season 5), Thomas Daniels (Season 6), Akron Watson (Season 6), Ju'Not Joyner (Season 8) and Chris Golightly (Season 9) — are seeking $25 million each in damages for the show's alleged discrimination and other misdeeds. They also seek to force Idol to adopt new anti-racism regulations.

American Idol accused of racism by nine former contestants

New York attorney James H. Freeman, representing the plaintiffs, says he began investigating the show after Jermaine Jones was kicked off on March 15, 2012, because he didn't inform producers about multiple outstanding warrants for his arrest. Freeman then discovered that throughout Idol's then-11-season run, only nine other people had been publically disqualified. And as it turns out, all of them happened to be black.

The contestants' attorney claims that these eliminations were all part of a "cruel and inhumane" plot to humiliate black singers to boost ratings. According to Freeman, it starts as early as the background checks when producers ask, "Have you ever been arrested?" This is a violation of the California employment law, Freeman asserts, since his clients were applying for "employment" with Idol and it is therefore illegal to ask about their arrest histories.