'Bachelor' attorney: Producers should look at Rooney Rule

Amended complaint includes third plaintiff

An attorney for the two men suing ABC and the "Bachelor" and "Bachelorette" shows says their producers should institute a candidate screening process similar to the one adopted by the National Football League nine years ago.

Lawyers for former MTSU football player Nathaniel Claybrooks, Glencliff High School teacher and football coach Christopher Johnson and Baltimore resident Aaron Payne — who is new to the case — recently filed an amended lawsuit saying ABC and the show producers have systematically discrimated against minority candidates. They point out that, in 25 seasons, the shows haven't featured a single person of color in the central contestant role.

District Court Judge Aleta Trauger last month dismissed the plaintiffs' original suit, saying the TV entities' actions were protected by the First Amendment. The amended complaint — download it here — has come accompanied by a short filing from Cyrus Mehri, a Washington, D.C-based attorney specializing in high-profile discrimination cases. In his note, Mehri points to the precedent set by the NFL almost a decade ago when it set out to interview at least one minority candidate for each coaching vacancy. At the time, Mehri helped author a report calling for what has become known as the "Rooney Rule."

"Exposure to highly qualified racial minorities often results in offers to racial minorities as the clubs seek the best candidates and benefit from casting a wide net and having an inclusive process," Mehri wrote in his affidavit filed a week ago. "There is no reason that I can see having a more inclusive process will not succeed here in this matter."