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Bachelor Discrimination Lawsuit Dismissed


October 31, 2012
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The class action lawsuit alleging that the popular dating show The Bachelor discriminated against contestants of color has been dismissed. Both sides raised a number of novel legal arguments, and the court ultimately sided with producers.

As we previously discussed on this entertainment law blog, the lawsuit contended that racism is behind the shows’ failure to feature a Bachelor or a Bachelorette of color. It was premised on violations of federal and state civil rights laws, and sought injunctive relief to stop the exclusion of minorities from the leading roles in these shows. In their defense, ABC and the show’s producers argued that the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protected their casting decisions.

U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger characterized the plaintiffs’ goals of removing taboos over interracial relationships as “laudable,” but ultimately found that the First Amendment does protect casting decisions by ABC and The Bachelor’s producers.

“As defendants persuasively argue, casting decisions are a necessary component of any entertainment show’s creative content…The plaintiffs seek to drive an artificial wedge between casting decisions and the end product, which itself is indisputably protected as speech by the First Amendment. Thus, regulating the casting process necessarily regulates the end product. In this respect, casting and the resulting work of entertainment are inseparable and must both be protected to ensure that the producers’ freedom of speech is not abridged,” the ruling said.

For more information about this case or the issues raised, please contact Anthony Caruso, Chair of Scarinci Hollenbeck’s Sports and Entertainment Law Group.