Recently a California court has ruled that television actress Nicollette Sheridan can have a second wrongful termination trial. The original trail ended in 2012, but the jury was split eight to four in favor of Sheridan. Sheridan sued Touchstone/ABC and Marc Cherry -- the producers and creator of the popular television show Desperate Housewives. However, an appeals court later ruled that since her contract was simply not renewed, the judge should issue a directed verdict in favor of Cherry and the studio.
In the wrongful termination suit that Sheridan originally brought, she claims that she was fired after complaining that she was hit in the head by Cherry during an argument that took place in September 2008. At the time, Sheridan made $4 million a year on the show. She sued for $20 million.
While this case has a lot of twists and turns as it plays out in the media and in the courtroom, it is important for California workers to understand that bringing a wrongful termination suit is a viable option in some cases. Under employment laws, California employers cannot fire an employee for discriminatory reasons. Furthermore, an employee cannot be fired in retaliation for complaining about an unsafe working conditions, discrimination in the workplace, sexual harassment or other similar illegal conditions.
California employees may have a few options after they have been wrongfully terminated. In some cases, it may be best to negotiate a settlement with the person's former employer. This way the case can be settled out of court, yet a resolution is still achieved. In some cases, a severance package can be negotiated that benefits the employee. In other cases, the wrongful termination suit may need to be taken to trial so that the employer is held accountable and the employee gets the compensation that the employee deserves.
Source: New York Daily News, "Nicollette Sheridan wins approval for retrial for 'Desperate Housewives' wrongful termination suit," Don Kaplan, Jan. 30, 2014