This one is a doozy. On November 20, a court awarded former The Price is Right model Brandi Cochran $777,000 in a suit that claims that she was discriminated against and then fired for becoming pregnant while working on the show. The whole thing is shocking and brutal but the pay out? Wowee. I think my jaw hit the floor when I first saw that number. And yes, you are reading that right. It's over $700,000. I feel like that's not enough punishment for the producers of the show.
Cochran got pregnant with twins in 2009 and in her claim she says that she was instantly berated and mocked by her colleagues and superiors on the show. She had been trying (unsuccessfully) for years to get pregnant, so I suspect she was pretty excited to find out that she was carrying twins. The suit claims that she was made fun of for gaining weight and she suffered from that humiliation while still at work, but that when she tried to return after her maternity leave in early 2010, she was told she wasn't needed. The producer's defence was that they were "happy" with the five models they currently had working.
I'm sorry, but I think that's possibly the laziest excuse I have ever heard. But Freemantle Media isn't done—they are appealing and believe they will be "vindicated" as they think that they've done absolutely NOTHING wrong. Except that the fired a woman for having children.
Brandi's lawyers are taking this all the way through a punitive phase and during the next phase of court, they will be asking for nearly $8 million in damages. I personally think that what SHOULD happen is that Freemantle be forced to donate a VERY large sum (say, $8 million dollars) of money to a women's group—maybe a legal aid clinic or a shelter—and think about how they treat the women that work on their show. Just because a woman works as a model doesn't mean she is an asset that can be discarded. She's still doing a job and still has every damned right to return to said job after leaving to deliver children. And California, much like many states in the US only has a 4-month maternity leave. FOUR MONTHS! She took four freaking months off to have TWINS then was ready (and physically looked amazing) to get back to work and was told "thanks, but no thanks?" What the hell is wrong with people?
I'm interested to see if they make it through the punitive phase (I do think the amount being asked for is high) and what will happen when Freemantle appeals. Sad day when in 2012, women are still being punished for having children.
So, spill it! What do you think of Brandi's case against her former employers?