An “American Idol” contestant is suing producers of the hit reality show, alleging that she is a victim of wage theft and that the celebrity judges turned her into a “laughingstock” on national television.
Normandy Vamos, 30, appeared on the 20th season of the ABC talent show, which aired last year, wowing Katy Perry, Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan with her vocal chops and advancing to Los Angeles for further auditions.
But in the suit, filed Friday in California, Vamos says she should have been paid as an employee for the time she spent in Tinseltown.
“Reality TV isn’t always real. There’s a lot that happens behind the scenes,” the aspiring singer from Baltimore said in a press release put out by Payton Employment Law. “Myself and hundreds of people worked about a week with no pay.”
Her lawsuit alleges that producers thus “engaged in unjust enrichment and unfair business practices” and “violated California labor code under the Private Attorneys General Act.”
According to Vamos, she and other contestants should have been paid wages and overtime and should have been reimbursed for business expenses.
The singer filed the suit “on behalf of herself and all others similarly situated,” although no other contestants have publicly attached their names.
“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,” Vamos’ attorney Chantal Payton said.
“Vamos and other performers who create content for ‘American Idol’ have rights as employees, but the producers have chosen to ignore those rights,” the lawyer alleged. “They treated them as so-called volunteers, when in reality they are employees who should be paid.”
Meanwhile, Vamos claimed she was deliberately designed to look like a “laughingstock” during her initial audition, where she performed Tina Turner’s “Proud Mary.”
She said particular attention was paid to “her carrot-shaped purse,” “bunny-shaped” Crocs and “high-pitched speaking voice,” which she believes were intended to create a comic scene.
Vamos alleges that producers “instructed her in how to appear and sound, creating an audition that grabbed headlines and went viral online.”
“The contract between her high-pitched speaking voice and her lower-pitched singing, provided plenty of material for the judges to pick apart,” the press release reads.
Vamos has not disclosed the exact sum of money she is seeking in compensatory damages.
WATCH VAMOS’ AUDITION VIDEO BELOW: