A woman just received a small fortune from "The Price is Right," and she wasn't even a contestant. This week, a model for the popular game show won a wrongful termination lawsuit against her former employer, claiming that the show improperly ended her employment. According to the lawsuit, the model was released from the show after twice becoming pregnant and once going on disability leave.
The woman, a former Miss USA pageant winner, first became pregnant in 2007. On that occasion, she was so worried about telling her employers about her condition that it caused her a great deal of stress. According to the woman, this stress contributed to a miscarriage.
Her employers were apparently were not supportive of her pregnancy. According to testimony, producers repeatedly insulted and belittled the model during her pregnancy. When she became pregnant again a year later, the behavior continued. Eventually, she was forced to go on disability due to complications related to her pregnancy. Soon after, she was fired.
Both maternity leave and disability leave are protected under employment law in Indiana and across the nation; employees cannot be terminated for exercising either of these rights. In this case, the production company that employed the woman claimed that they had not discriminated against the model, but the jury disagreed. She was awarded $755,000 in the verdict. She could receive even more if it is shown that her employers acted maliciously in their treatment of her.
When an employer fires an employee for exercising their statutory rights, they may be found liable in a wrongful termination lawsuit. Employees may then be able to receive monetary damages, or even gain reinstatement to a lost position.
Source: Us Weekly, "Price is Right Model Brandi Cochran Wins $775,000 in Pregnancy Lawsuit," Nov. 20, 2012