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Sacramento Employment Law Blog


Ruling sends pregnancy discrimination case back to trial

Last year, we wrote a blog post about a lawsuit that was filed against the game show “The Price is Right” for alleged discrimination. A model who worked on the show claimed that she had been the victim of pregnancy discrimination and that she was also unfairly fired from the show. The pregnancy discrimination claim was just the latest in several claims against the game show and its producers citing unfair treatment of female employees.

Weeks later, a jury made a ruling on the case. They had been convinced that the woman’s pregnancy was a factor in her employer’s discrimination against her and awarded the former model more than $7.7 million dollars. The money could not undo what the woman had endured during last several months at her job, but it was likely a great relief to be compensated for the damages and to hold her former employer accountable for their unfair treatment. Unfortunately, any feelings of success and reprieve were short-lived.

Just recently, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge ruled that the jury had been given improper instructions prior to the trial and the judge ordered a new trial. While the ruling was made based on one missing word, the judge ruled that the one word held significant weight and without it, the instructions to the jury were improper. That one word is “substantial.”

According to reports, instead of instructing the jury that discrimination must be a “substantial motivating factor/reason,” for a termination, the judge only stated that it must be a “motivating factor/reason.” This is significant because it means that discrimination must be shown to have been a substantial factor in a termination for it to be unlawful, rather than a motivating factor. This one missing word was enough for the show’s producers to challenge the verdict and have the case retried.

It is certainly upsetting that this one small mistake has resulted in a new trial, especially for the woman who has already had to go through so much. However, a new trial does not mean that the pregnancy discrimination did not take place. It will take some time and possibly a new approach, but it does not mean that the woman’s claims of unfair treatment are unfounded.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter, “‘Price Is Right’ Model’s $7.7 Million Legal Win Wiped Out,” Eriq Gardner, March 12, 2013

  • Being the victim of unfair treatment at work based on pregnancy can be very upsetting and cause undue stress on a woman. For more information on how our California law firm can help in these situations, please visit our page on pregnancy discrimination.