CORRECTION (July 27): Bernardo’s complaint is actually asking for $300 million, not $300,000. Yes, there was an extra three zeroes there in the complaint. My bad!
Former “Idol” contestant Ian Bernardo today faxed the Atlanta Journal Constitution (and presumably others) informing us that he had filed a complaint in New York’s Division of Human Rights office against the producers of “American Idol” for illegal workplace discrimination.
In 2006, he performed Laura Branigan’s “Gloria” during auditions. He was horrible. I don’t even remember the guy four years after the fact.
He showed up on the Simon Cowell finale “Idol” show this past May on stage with Dane Cook and a bunch of other “Idol” misfits. The lawsuit said he was encouraged to stir things up so he grabbed the mike and talked directly to Simon. Producers cut to commercials. It looked kind of staged to me but he did manage to keep the mike away from Tatiana Del Toro, which was quite a feat.
Bernado in the suit says the producers “exploited my non-conforming appearance and sexual orientation. They did this by directing me to ‘gay it up’ in any appearance I made on camera… Although characterized as an ‘audition’ to the public at large, in fact, I was and was paid as an employee of respondents for each appearance.”
He said employees of “Idol” derided him for his appearance using words like “fag” and “homo.” “The workplace,” he said, “was permeated with discriminatory intimidation, ridicule, insults and hostile and offensive comments that were so severe as to alter my working conditions and create an environment that was abusive and ultimately threatening to my safety.”
He is asking for $300,000 in damages.
I’ll update this if we get a response from “Idol” but I doubt they’ll have much to say.