Simon Cowell is being sued for £2.5 million ($3.8 million) by a former contestant on the U.K. version of his “Got Talent” show.
Contestant Emma Amelia Pearl Czikai, who appeared in a “Britain’s Got Talent” broadcast by ITV1 in May 2009, claims she was humiliated and degraded on the show.
Czikai first lodged her complaint of unfairness and discrimination with the employment tribunal in January.
On Wednesday at a pre-trial review at the central London tribunal court, Czikai, representing herself, accused the show and its judges of “exploitation, humiliation, degradation and barbarism.”
She also claimed the show was guilty of disability discrimination because it had not made adjustments for her, such as lowering the level of backing music and microphone levels.
Czikai said: “This program makes a select number of rich people very, very rich on the backs of the ordinary man and woman in the street through exploitation, humiliation, degradation and a re-emergence of modern-day barbarism with all its inherent cruelty.”
The one-time nurse said her perf was affected by her suffering from cervical spine neuritis, which can cause head and shoulder pain.
It also, she said, affects her ability to hear her own singing voice in loud environments such as the “Got Talent” audition arena.
The pre-trial review, which will decide if there is a full case to be heard, was told that Czikai was asking for £300,000 ($458,115) for injured feelings plus compensation of £1 million ($1.5 million) and loss of earnings of £1.25 million ($1.9 million). She said any coin she was awarded would be donated to charity.
Czikai had a previous complaint by U.K. media regulator Ofcom rejected.
Thomas Linden, representing Cowell’s TV outfit Simco, opposed Czikai’s right to have a full hearing on the basis that the show was not an employer and that the staff had no prior knowledge of her disabilities.