Two African Americans are suing the long-running show “The Bachelor” for race discrimination. The two men say that they—like many other African Americans—were not chosen by the show’s producers because of their race. This case brings up two points. First, most people think of race discrimination as being outlawed only by employment laws. It seems unlikely that a Bachelor contestant would be an employee, but race discrimination laws can still apply. Many states have civil rights laws prohibiting race discrimination in all sorts of situations—such as public accommodations.
Next, there is the question of whether there are exceptions to the civil rights and employment laws for such discrimination. In the employment law context, many state laws have an “entertainment” exception. For example, if a Broadway play or TV show is trying to cast someone to play the role of Martin Luther King, it is permissible to only hire/cast someone who is an African American male.
Now, The Bachelor does not have specific racial roles, but the producers may (rightly or wrongly) argue that their target audience is a specified gender, age, and race group. This is a tough one to decide. What do you think?
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