Sensational new claims have emerged surrounding a wrongful termination lawsuit filed against “American Idol” and former contestant Mario Vazquez in Los Angeles Superior Court last week.
On Friday, Magdaleno Olmos, a former assistant production accountant, filed court papers in Los Angeles Superior Court accusing Vazquez of sexually harassing him and “Idol” of letting him go for reporting the issue.
Speaking to “Access Hollywood” on Thursday, Olmos’ lawyer, Matt Matern recounted details alleged in the suit including one incident where Vazquez is alleged to have followed Olmos into a bathroom, performed a lewd act in front of him and offered up sexual favors. After Olmos reported the incident, Matern claims “Idol” producers offered his client their support. That support, the attorney said, may have led to Vazquez’s mysterious departure from the show’s Top 12 during Season 4.
“I believe it (Vazquez’s departure) was not voluntary in any way shape or form,” Matern speculated. “There were meetings held on that same day with the executives Nigel Lythgoe and Ken Warwick, with my client and with the attorneys for ‘American Idol.’
“They asked my client what had happened,” Olmos’ attorney continued. “Then I believe they interviewed Mr. Vazquez that same day, brought my client back in for a second interview and [I’m told], Nigel Lythgoe, put his arm around my client and said, ‘we know that this happened and we are going to let Mario Vazquez go, and you’re going to stay.’”
Olmos claims that prior to the bathroom incident, he had reported incidents to his supervisor in which he believed Vazquez had stared at him “lasciviously” and “at length.”
As a result of the alleged harassment, Matern said his client asked to see a psychologist.
“The companies offered him to go see a psychologist, but then never actually referred him to anybody,” Olmos’ attorney said. “The only person they said he could go see was the psychologist that had previously seen Mario Vazquez. Obviously my client didn’t want to go see someone who Mr. Vazquez was seeing.”
Matern said his client was fired from “Idol” following an incident when Olmos said he was going to see a doctor and a supervisor told him he “was not excused to go see this doctor.”
“We believe that the only reason that he was terminated was because he complained about being sexually harassed and his supervisors and the ‘American Idol’ people didn’t want him there.”
There is a two-year statue of limitations on wrongful termination lawsuits in the state of California and this suit comes in just under the wire. When asked why Olmos filed so close to the wire, his attorney suggested settlement talks with the program and its’ production company had stalled. He also accused the companies of sending them on a run around.
“Initially, the Fremantle and ‘American Idol’ attorneys said, ‘Well you need to go after Mr. Vazquez, he is the wrongdoer.’ And then when that line of attack didn’t work, then they tried to say, ‘Well, actually this was a consensual relationship between Mr. Olmos and Mr. Vazquez,’ and therefore they’re not liable for anything that happened between my client and Mr. Vazquez because it was consensual. Obviously, those two statements are contradictory.”
Matern says that this contradiction led to a breakdown in negotiations.
“Mr. Olmos immediately complained about this conduct and sought representation. We tried to resolve this case informally with ‘American Idol’ and Fremantle and Fox, but they refused to engage in meaningful settlement discussions and so we now had to file a lawsuit,” Matern said.
Fox released a statement to “Access Hollywood” on Wednesday saying, “We haven’t been served but we wouldn’t comment on pending litigation.” And calls made to Mario Vazquez’s attorney have not been returned.