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"The Bachelor" Formally Sued for Racial Discrimination

ABC/NICK RAY(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) -- As expected, a group of Nashville, Tenn., residents on Wednesday filed a class-action lawsuit against The Bachelor franchise, claiming it has discriminated against people of color.

In the complaint, obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, one of the plaintiffs, Christopher Johnson, says he dropped by a casting call last year for The Bachelor, where, he claims, an employee stopped him and asked him why he was there.  The lawsuit says the employee promised to pass along Johnson's application, but Johnson -- an African-American -- says he was never contacted.

Johnson is leading the lawsuit along with Nathaniel Claybrooks, a fellow African-American football player.  Claybrooks claimed at a press conference Wednesday that he too tried to audition for The Bachelor but was, "rushed...through" the process by staff members while white applicants were given more time.

The lawsuit alleges, "The deliberate exclusion of people of color from the roles of the Bachelor and Bachelorette underscores the significant barriers that people of color continue to face in media and the broader marketplace."

The complaint, which alleges The Bachelor franchise violates civil rights laws, calls for the ABC series to implement policies that will open the doors for people of color to participate.  It also seeks punitive damages and attorney's fees.

Warner Horizon, which produces The Bachelor, says in a statement, "This complaint is baseless and without merit.  In fact, we have had various participants of color throughout the series’ history, and the producers have been consistently -- and publicly -- vocal about seeking diverse candidates for both programs.  As always, we continue to seek out participants of color for both The Bachelor and The Bachelorette."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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