The employment law Case of the Week is Touchstone Television v. Nicollette Sheridan (yes, that Nicollette Sheridan). This case has more twists and turns than an episode of Desperate Housewives! I'm guessing . . . never actually seen the show. In any event, the case arises out of the actress's work on the series.Ms. Sheridan claims that the show's creator hit her while filming in 2008. She complained to Touchstone, and they retaliated by killing her! That sounds pretty harsh . . . no, wait . . . they killed her character on the show. My bad. The end result was that Ms. Sheridan no longer had a spot on the show.She filed a claim for wrongful termination that went all the way to trial. The trial ended with a deadlocked jury. Before a retrial, Touchstone appealed claiming that they never terminated Ms. Sheridan. Instead, they just decided not to renew her contract. That seems like a pretty solid argument - how can you wrongfully terminate someone if you don't terminate them?In a classic case of good news-bad news for Touchstone, the California appellate court agreed with them that Ms. Sheridan can't bring a wrongful termination claim based on Touchstone's decision to not renew her contract. But, she can amend her complaint to bring a new claim! California statute prohibits discrimination against an employee "because of the employee's complaints about unsafe work conditions."Well, if you liked the first season of this lawsuit, great news! - It sounds like it just got picked up for another season.
Lexis.com subscribers can access the Lexis enhanced version of the Touchstone Television Productions v. Superior Court, 2012 Cal. App. LEXIS 888 (Cal. App. 2d Dist. Aug. 16, 2012), decision with summary, headnotes, and Shepard's.
Read additional employment law articles on Phillip Miles' blog, Lawffice Space.
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I stopped watching the show after she was fired.