Fox is facing a class action lawsuit after filming scenes for the first two episodes of Empire‘s season 2 at the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center in Illinois.
The suit could reportedly represent upwards of 400 people and claims Empire production created a “harmful environment” for its residents. It will seek “unspecified damages and a portion of profits from the show.”
The lawsuit was filed by the guardians of two former residents of the Cook County (Illinois) Juvenile Temporary Detention Center, who stayed there last summer. During their time there, Empire shot scenes for the first two episodes of season 2 over six days in June, four days in July, and four days in August, according to the lawsuit. The housed children were forced to stay in their pods while the show was filming, the suit alleges.
According to the lawsuit, many of the facilities detrimental to the residents’ rehabilitation were shut down during production. The suit also contends residents were placed under restrictions “more severe than those governing many adult jails.”
“Numerous areas that are essential to the JTDC’s mission of educating and rehabilitating the children housed there — including the JTDC’s school, its facilities for family visits, its only outdoor recreation yard, its library, and its chapel — were placed off limits so that Fox’s agents and employees could use them to stage and film the show,” reads the lawsuit, which was obtained by Deadline.
“The purpose of these lockdowns was to provide Fox with a realistic prison facility to use as the primary set of two highly profitable Empire episodes,” the lawsuit continues. “The children at JTDC, meanwhile, were placed under restrictions more severe than those governing many adult jails.”
Empire stars Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson play the temperamental heads of the hip-hop reigning Lyon family. Season 2’s premiere episode raked in 16.2 million viewers and the second episode trailed right behind with 13.7 million. According to EW, “The lawsuit alleges 30-second ad buys for each episode cost $750,000 and $600,000, respectively.”
We will keep you updated as new information surfaces.