OK. I admit it. For a short-time I watched Desperate Housewives. I’d like to say I only watched it because my wife made me, but the truth is, I liked the show. I also learned you don’t retaliate against desperate housewives. So, when I heard that actress Nicolleta Sheridan—who played my favorite character, Edie Britt—was suing Touchstone Television Productions, it piqued my interest.
Apparently, Sheridan sued Touchstone under Labor Code section 6310, alleging that Touchstone fired her in retaliation for her complaint about a battery allegedly committed on her by the show’s creator, Marc Cherry. Touchstone claimed Sheridan failed to “exhaust her administrative remedies” by filing a claim with the Labor Commissioner. Although the trial court agreed with Touchstone, the appellate court made it clear you don’t retaliate against desperate housewives.
Don’t Retaliate Against Desperate Housewives
Sheridan alleged that “during a September 24, 2008 rehearsal, Sheridan attempted to question Cherry about the script, and he struck her in response. Sheridan complained about the alleged battery to Touchstone.” When Touchstone did not renew Sheridan’s contract for the 6th season—I had stopped watching by then—she sued Touchstone for wrongful termination in violation of public policy. In true Hollywood fashion, the jury deadlocked and the court declared a mistrial. Sheridan filed a second amended complaint, alleging that Touchstone “retaliated against her in violation of section 6310 for complaining about Cherry’s alleged battery.”
Touchstone argued that Sheridan had to first file a claim with the Labor Commissioner under sections 98.7 and 6312. Touchstone’s position had some merit, since a depublished case said employees had to exhaust their administrative remedies before filing a retaliation claim. But in 2013, the legislature amended the Labor Code to specifically state “An individual is not required to exhaust administrative remedies or procedures in order to bring a civil action under any provision of this code, unless that section under which the action is brought expressly requires exhaustion of an administrative remedy.”
The appellate court, which was not bound by the previously depublished decision, found that the plain language of sections 6312 and 98.7 before the 2013 amendments allowed filing a Labor Commissioner complaint, but did not require exhaustion. The court went on to find that the 2013 amendment to the Labor Code “merely clarified existing law.”
So, Sheridan will get another day in court and we get to find out if Touchstone should have headed my advice: Don’t retaliate against desperate housewives.
Original article by Robert E. Nuddleman of Nuddleman Law Firm, P.C.
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