Nine former 'American Idol' contestants are suing the singing competition, claiming that they were forced off the show in a racist attempt to boost ratings.

According to TMZ, Corey Clark, Jaered Andrews, Donnie Williams, Terrell Brittenum, Derrell Brittenum, Thomas Daniels, Akron Watson, Ju'Not Joyner and Chris Golightly are banding together in the suit.

New York attorney James H. Freeman has submitted a letter to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on behalf of his clients, in which he says that 'Idol' producers have publicly disqualified 10 people from the show to date, all of whom are black.

The letter states that the show has been implementing a "cruel and inhumane" scheme to use and humiliate black contestants for ratings. Freeman also claims that the "scheme' begins when contestants are asked if they've ever been arrested, which is a violation of California employment law. He adds that none of the disqualified contestants were convicted of their charges, and that their dismissal made the singers look like "violent criminals, liars and sexual deviants."

TMZ spoke to 'Idol' producer Nigel Lythgoe, who said, "We treat everybody the same ... no matter the race, religion or sex ... I think we've always had a fantastic share of talent from contestants both black and white ... I don't think I've ever seen racism at the show."

It's worth noting that 'American Idol' has had three African-American winners over the years, including Ruben Studdard, Fantasia Barrino and Jordin Sparks.

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