Producers of the popular television show the Price is Right are facing a $7.7 million punitive damages award for allegedly discriminating against a former model.
The model, Brandi Cochran, worked on the show for seven years before she took maternity leave in 2010.
Cochran alleges that shortly after she told producers that she was pregnant with twins her executive producer asked questions about how long was she planning to work, and whether she will work if she got really big. After starting to show she claims that co-workers called her insulting names such as wide load, and also teased her about her weight.
After taking maternity leave the producers allegedly would not return Cochran’s phone calls. She claims that it took more than four months before they even sent her a notice that she would not be allowed to come back to work.
The show’s producers, FremantleMedia, have stated that they would be appealing the ruling because they claim that the court should have allowed the jury to hear evidence like the fact that the show had allowed other models to appear on the show while pregnant.
California law allows employees who have been discriminated against to recover a wide range of damages. First employees are eligible to claim compensatory damages. These damages include pay for wages lost up until the time of trial, future earnings, and interest on damages. Medical payments can also be awarded in disability discrimination cases. If the employee was harmed emotionally they may be entitled to recovery emotional damages. Attorney’s fees are also recoverable by employees who can show that they have been unlawfully discriminated against. In some cases, such as the Price is Right case, employers may be charged with punitive damages to punish the employer in order to prevent them from making the same mistake again.
In this case the punitive damages were awarded in addition to the compensatory damages that Cochran already received in the amount of $777,000. Generally the amount of damages awarded is only relevant to the extent that the employer can pay them. In this case the employer’s substantial assets make recovery of the total amount likely, as long as Cochran is successful on appeal.
If you have been discriminated against by your employer or potential employer you may be entitled to compensation. To learn more contact the attorneys of the Law Offices of Michael S. Cunningham, LLP. Schedule a free consultation today by calling (951) 213-4786.
Source: ABC News, “Former ‘Price Is Right’ Model Awarded $7.7M in Termination Suit,” Jennifer Abbey, Nov. 22, 2012