As with many business relationships in Hollywood, the one between Nicollette Sheridan and Marc Cherry did not end amicably. Cherry created the television show “Desperate Housewives,” in which Sheridan played one of the main roles. The show ran from 2004 until 2012. Sheridan, however, lasted only five seasons.
Sheridan sued Cherry, as well as the studio that produced the ABC show, for $20 million, alleging wrongful termination. The actress, who was earning $4 million a year, claimed that she was fired after she complained that Cherry struck her head during an on-set dispute between the two. The jurors, however, could not reach a verdict, and the judge declared a mistrial in 2012. The hung jury reportedly had supported Sheridan by an eight-to-four margin.
There was, in Hollywood terms, a sequel to the case. An appeals court determined that the judge should have ruled in favor of the studio and Cherry, since Sheridan was not actually fired. The court said that the studio simply had chosen not to renew her contract for the following season.
Sheridan and her attorneys asked for another trial. However, last fall a judge denied their request on the grounds that the actress had not taken her complaint to the California Labor Commission within the designated timeframe of six months after the alleged incident.
As NBC reported, her attorneys contended that she was not required to file such a complaint with the commission before filing a suit. Now, without publicly providing an explanation, that same judge has reversed his decision. This means that Sheridan’s suit can move forward.
While this suit has received far more attention than the vast majority of wrongful termination suits, the laws on which it is based are the same. People who believe that they lost their job in retaliation for complaining about unsafe work conditions, discrimination or other illegal company practices have every right to hold their employer legally accountable. They also have a right to seek compensation to make up for lost wages, emotional distress, damage to one’s professional reputation and other claims.
Source: New York Daily News, “Nicollette Sheridan wins approval for retrial for ‘Desperate Housewives’ wrongful termination suit” Don Kaplan, Jan. 30, 2014