Hastings Communications and Entertainment Law Journal


Henna Choi


In 2012, two African-American males, who unsuccessfully applied to be the Bachelor, sued ABC under 42 U.S.C. § 1981, alleging that the producers of reality shows The Bachelor and The Bachelorette intentionally excluded people of color from the lead role. The United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee concluded that the First Amendment was a complete bar to the plaintiffs' section 1981 claim with respect to casting decisions for the television programs. Moreover, the court did not allow the plaintiffs to litigate their untimely employment discrimination claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This note examines the interesting question whether reality television applicants could quality as "applicants for employment" under Title VII. This note also considers various claims a discrimination plaintiff can bring against reality television producers, and potential legal challenges the plaintiff will face in the course of litigation. This note then proposes several solutions to minimize discriminatory casting in reality television, and in the entertainment industry at large.