Lawyer: Mario Vazquez’s exit from Idol “was not voluntary in any way shape or form”

The lawyer for the man who’s suing FOX and Mario Vazquez for sexual harassment said in an interview that Mario Vazquez was forced to leave American Idol 4, and says his client is suing now only because FOX and the show’s producers wouldn’t negotiate.

“I believe it (Vazquez’s departure) was not voluntary in any way shape or form,” Matt Matern, Magdaleno Olmos’ lawyer, tells Access Hollywood. “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. 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.’”

If that’s true, the producers seem supportive, not vindictive, toward the former employee; his lawyer’s statements seem to simultaneously support the idea that the behavior took place but damage his claim that he was fired for reporting it.

However, Matern also says, “The companies offered him to go see a psychologist, but then never actually referred him to anybody. 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.” Olmos was fired only when he decided to go to a doctor, and his supervisor said he “was not excused to go see this doctor,” according to Matern.
“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.”

Why file a lawsuit nearly two years after his firing? Matern says that they were negotiating with the production company, which, according to him, first said that they should sue Mario only. “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.”

Plaintiff’s Lawyer Speaks Out Over Mario Vazquez/’Idol’ Lawsuit [Access Hollywood]

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.