A former game show model has won more than $8 million in connection with a wrongful termination suit. The woman claimed in the suit that the show “The Price is Right” refused to take her back after she completed her maternity leave, violating federal regulations including the Family and Medical Leave Act. The 41-year-old woman had showcased items on the television show from 2002 to 2009.
The woman said in the suit that producers on the show began discriminating against her soon after they found out that she was pregnant with twins in December 2008. Executives decided to remove her face from the show’s Web site, and they made rude comments about her eating habits and size, according to the suit.
Sadly, one of the woman’s children died before delivery in 2009; the other was born prematurely a month after that incident. When the woman attempted to return from her maternity leave in 2010, the show’s producers claimed they were satisfied with their current models, and they refused to return the woman to her previous position.
Jurors awarded the woman about $700,000 in compensatory damages for lost wages and other costs associated with the case. The punitive damages in the case totaled more than $7 million, effectively punishing the show for their refusal to follow federal mandates.
According to provisions in the FMLA, the woman would be permitted to take 12 weeks’ medical or maternity leave without penalty. This provision was created to protect workers, particularly women, who were forced to take time away from their work in order to receive medical care. Women have been subjected to countless instances of employment discrimination because of their decisions to become pregnant and the FMLA was designed to protect those workers.
It is not clear whether the woman’s situation was entirely covered by the provisions in the FMLA, though it certainly played a role in the jurors’ decision.
Source: Business Insider, “‘Price is Right’ model wins $8.5 million prize in pregnancy lawsuit,” Silvia Hsieh, Nov. 28, 2012.