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'Price Is Right' Loses Legal Showdown Over Maternity Leave

By Deanne Katz, Esq. on November 30, 2012 4:55 AM

When it comes to maternity leave, "The Price Is Right" seems to have guessed wrong about how to treat its employees.

A jury last week awarded former "Price Is Right" model Brandi Cochran almost $770,000 in compensatory damages for employment discrimination. The next day, they awarded her another $7 million in punitive damages as well, the Associated Press reports.

Cochran accused the popular game show's producers of harassing and firing her because of her pregnancy. Their evidence to the contrary wasn't convincing to the jury.

In her suit, Cochran alleged that producers made comments about her size when she was pregnant in 2008. When she had complications with her pregnancy and had to take disability leave, she lost her modeling job.

"The Price Is Right's" producers didn't see it the same way. They argued that other models had been pregnant at the show and continued to work there without a problem.

Or at least they would have argued that, reports Inside Counsel.

The judge didn't permit the jury to hear that evidence. While that evidence could have vindicated the producers, the company's previous actions don't necessarily indicate how it acted in this case.

Past action and company policy can be persuasive. But in a case for employment discrimination, it's also good to have evidence of non-discrimination in the situation at hand.

Of course there is always the option of appeal. That's something FremantleMedia, which produces "The Price Is Right," is certainly looking into.

This isn't the first time the company has been in legal hot water, although it is the first time they've lost at trial, according to the AP.

Several of the models who worked with the show's prior host Bob Barker accused him of sexual harassment and wrongful termination. Those cases all settled out of court.

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