The producers of “The Price is Right,” TV’s longest-running game show, have learned that negative comments about pregnancies can result in jackpots for employees, to the tune of more than $8 million.
Recent case: Brandi was one of the models who helps showcase prizes on “The Price is Right.” She joined the program in 2002, working an average of 600 hours per year. No one with the show ever criticized Brandi’s performance or any other aspect of her work. In fact, she was on the show’s “A-List” of preferred models.
In January 2009, Brandi announced she was pregnant with twins, who were due in June. She continued to be booked for work and was scheduled for more appearances through March.
Then something went terribly wrong with Brandi’s pregnancy and one of the twins died in utero. A few days later, she gave birth to both infants—one stillborn and the other premature and in need of extensive neonatal services. Brandi also developed post-partum depression.
By December 2009, Brandi’s baby was healthy, so she notified “The Price is Right” that she was ready to return. However, she was told that the show was changing and that her services were no longer needed.
She sued, alleging.
The jury heard testimony about negative comments producers had made during Brandi’s pregnancy. One allegedly said that miscarriages were nature’s way “of getting rid of a bad baby.” Another, commenting on Brandi’s A-List status, allegedly said, “Go figure, I fire five models, what are the odds one of the ones that I keep gets pregnant?” Brandi also claimed that before she announced her pregnancy, a producer had commented that her dresses seemed too tight, and that she looked pregnant.
The jury awarded Brandi $776,000 in compensatory damages, plus almost $8 million in punitive damages.
“The Price is Right” has filed an appeal. (Cochran v. FremantleMedia, No. B247541, Court of Appeal of California, 2015)
- How to Fire an Employee the Legal Way: 6 Termination Guidelines
- Don't make juries use their imaginations! Tell decision-makers to keep interview notes
- Poor performance or disability discrimination? Keep good records to prove you're not biased
- When is it illegal to fire someone for sleeping on the job?
- Lawry's Restaurants agrees to settle gender bias claims