An Immovable Object and an Unstoppable Force: Reconciling the First Amendment and Antidiscrimination Laws in the Claybrooks Court

Erin A. Shackelford · 17 Vand. J. Ent. & Tech. 3

Abstract

This Note broadly addresses the problem of racial stereotyping and racial roles in the media. It is viewed through the lens of Claybrooks v. ABC, Inc., a recent federal district court decision of first impression. In Claybrooks, the court dismissed the plaintiff’s discrimination claims, ruling that casting decisions were protected under the First Amendment. This Note will address the problem of racial discrimination by focusing on racial misrepresentations in the media and the role of reality television programs in that landscape. Specifically, this Note will propose a new solution for the Claybrooks court. This analysis will assert that cast members should be considered employees, thus subjecting television networks to the legal liabilities under employment and labor laws. Furthermore, a special caveat should be created for casting decisions in race- and gender neutral reality television programming that should not be subject to protection under the First Amendment.