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“Desperate Housewives” Wrongful Termination, Retaliation Lawsuit Goes to Trial

March 3, 2012

In recent Los Angeles, California employment news, the "Desperate Housewives" wrongful termination trial began this week, and is proving to be as entertaining as the soap-style television show. The lawsuit was filed by television star Nicollette Sheridan against the hit TV show's creator and executive producer, Marc Cherry.

"Desperate Housewives," the primetime television comedy show, has been a hit series since it's premiere in 2004. Vincent Howard discussed this wrongful termination case in a Santa Ana employment lawyers blog from last year--after Sheridan accused Cherry of wrongful termination and retaliation, by killing off the character that she played on the comedy series for five seasons, after she complained that she was hit by the producer.

Although Judge Elizabeth Allen White has paired down Sheridan's original 2010 lawsuit by throwing out Sheridan's original harassment charges last year and encouraging a settlement on many occasions--the judge has refused to dismiss the wrongful termination and retaliation claim, leading to the two-week trial.

In the original lawsuit, Sheridan accused Cherry of acting with aggressive and abusive behavior, and for slapping her across the face while filming the television show. Sheridan claimed that after discussing the alleged incident with ABC, Cherry's hostility grew, which led to the killing of her character in the fifth season out of alleged retaliation for complaining about being hit.

This week in a dramatic court moment, Sheridan reportedly hit her lawyer in the face in order to demonstrate how Cherry allegedly slapped her while rehearsing a scene for the show. She reportedly testified this week, and many of Sheridan's former cast mates are also expected to testify during the Los Angeles trial. This includes Marcia Cross, Eva Longoria, Felicity Huffman and James Denton, among others.

Cherry's lawyers argue that the demise of Sheridan's character was already being planned as early as May of 2008, four months before the alleged face slap--as a way to raise ratings and shock television viewers. Cherry's lawyers claim that the hit was just a light tap on Sheridan's head, in order to demonstrate a piece of physical comedy he wanted her to perform.

The Los Angeles jurors in this case must make a decision if the death of Sheridan's character and the end of her five seasons of employment constitutes wrongful termination out of retaliation, or just a creative decision that had nothing to do with the alleged battery.

ABC Entertainment is also named in the lawsuit, because their executives reportedly failed to properly investigate Sheridan's accusations that she was struck by Cherry, and then agreed with the show's creator and producer in his decision to fire her. Although the incident was reported to the studio's HR department by a line producer, an investigation was not conducted until later-- an investigation that Sheridan's lawyer claims was "fake" in order to protect the show, as neither Cherry or Sheridan were interviewed about the incident, only three of Cherry's employees.

In cities throughout Orange County, California, contact Vincent Howard at Howard Law, PC today.

'Desperate Housewives' Trial: Nicollette Sheridan and Marc Cherry Head to Court, The Daily Beast, February 15, 2012

Trial over firing of 'Desperate Housewives' star Sheridan to feature stars, backstage intrigue, The Washington Post, February 29, 2012

Nicollette Sheridan slaps lawyer in 'Desperate Housewives' trial, CNN, March 1, 2012

Related Web Resources:

California Department of Industrial Relations, (DIR)

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