A former American Idol reject – who stole the mic from Dane Cook during the live finale earlier this year – has filed a complaint for workplace discrimination and is setting the stage for a massive $300 million lawsuit.
Ian Benardo claims that problems began in 2006 when he first auditioned for the show. In a fax sent to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Benardo says that the Idol powers “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.”
The American Idol wannabe contestant continued on to say, “Although characterized as an ‘audition’ to the public at large, in fact, I was and was paid as an employee.”
Benardo says that when he was asked to appear on the American Idol finale this Spring (along with other memorable rejects as part of Dane Cook’s farewell to Cowell), producers asked him once again to be “outrageous” and “gay.” Benardo claims this was the reason he went on to steal the microphone from Cook in a self-proclaimed “Kanye moment” before the show cut to commercial.
In the discrimination lawsuit, Benardo claims that he was personally threatened by Dane and Dane’s manager and Idol producers warned him that he was “not safe” and forced him to exit the premises. The complaint also says that other employees used anti-gay slurs and that the show “was permeated with discriminatory intimidation, ridicule, insults, and hostile and offensive comments.”
Benardo says he has suffered emotional injuries and loss of employment opportunities as a result of his stint on Idol…and he needs $300 million to make it right. Check out Benardo’s encounter with Dane Cook here or watch his audition video here!