Former ‘American Idol’ contestant suing show for wage theft, says she was made a ‘laughingstock’ in audition

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A former “American Idol” contestant is suing the show’s producers as part of a wage and hour class action lawsuit, claiming she and others should have been paid as employees for the time they spent waiting to audition for the show, adding that she was treated as a “laughingstock” in her first audition. 

“American Idol’s producers seem to feel they can break labor laws and exploit ambitious young performers simply because they may be eager for a shot at becoming the next Jennifer Hudson or Carrie Underwood,” Normandy Vamos’ attorney, Chantal Payton said in a release. 

“Vamos and other performers who create content for American Idol have rights as employees, but the producers have chosen to ignore those rights. They treated them as so-called volunteers, when in reality they are employees who should be paid,” Payton added.

Vamos and the other contestants from last season were asked to remain at a Los Angeles hotel and be available for up to 15 hours a day with no compensation, claimed the lawsuit, which was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court last Friday. The lawsuit was filed against ABC and the production companies behind the show on behalf of Vamos and other unpaid or underpaid performers over the past four years.

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It claimed that the singers vying to move on to the early “Hollywood Week” portion of the show that followed earlier rounds of auditions should have been paid under California law “because their performances had the potential to air on American Idol,” Vamos’ lawyer said in a release. 

Normandy Vamos' audition went viral, notably for how her low-pitched singing voice contrasted with her high-pitched speaking voice 

Normandy Vamos’ audition went viral, notably for how her low-pitched singing voice contrasted with her high-pitched speaking voice  (American Idol)

Vamos’ lawyer claimed the show “subverts California labor laws to take advantage of starry-eyed performers” and that producers dictate how “participants appear, orchestrating segments full of ridicule from celebrity judges Katy Perry, Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan that are a signature part of the series.”

Vamos alleged producers “instructed her how to appear and sound,” including asking her to bring a carrot-shaped purse she owned to the audition and her high-pitched voice that contrasted with her low-pitched singing voice that caused Perry to jump out of her seat and swear during the audition. 

Vamos was unanimously pushed through to “Hollywood Week” following her audition of “Proud Mary” in front of Perry, Ritchie and Bryan. 

From left to right, Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan all said yes to Normandy Vamos moving on to "Hollywood Week" after her first audition last season. 

From left to right, Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan all said yes to Normandy Vamos moving on to “Hollywood Week” after her first audition last season.  (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images)

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“Reality TV isn’t always real,” Vamos said in a release. “There’s a lot that happens behind the scenes. Myself and hundreds of people worked about a week with no pay. I think a lot of reality TV participants aren’t aware that they have rights.”

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Representatives for “American Idol” and ABC did not immediately return Fox News Digital’s requests for comment. 

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