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Sterling Employment Law

Where others failed, 'Barker's Beauty' succeeds in gender discrimination suit

There are plenty of fans of the long-running game show "The Price Is Right" here in Detroit, so it's fair to assume that a few of us are aware that lawsuits by "Barker's Beauties," the female models who promote the show's prizes, are not uncommon.

Over the years, quite a few women have sued the show's producers, alleging that they were fired because they had gotten too old or were sexually harassed while on the job. Typically, these lawsuits do not get far.

But recently, a former Barker's Beauty sued the producers of the show for gender discrimination -- and won.

The model, Brandi Cochran, worked on the show for eight years before she was fired in 2010. She claimed that she was dismissed because she had gotten pregnant. A jury agreed and awarded her $776,000 in compensatory damages (meaning money is that meant to compensate her for discrete, identifiable economic losses) and $7 million in punitive damages (money meant to punish the wrongdoer.)

We have to assume the punitive damages will be reduced if the producers appeal and win, but we are happy to see that some traction has been gained here. Cochran detailed a long list of unacceptable behavior, such as reducing her workload as her pregnancy became visually apparent and rude jokes and comments by the show's bosses, and it is not fair to anyone to allow conduct like that to go unchecked in the workplace.

Now, not all cases of gender discrimination are quite this obvious. Gender discrimination can be more subtle. If you feel you have been mistreated at work, it might not hurt to speak over what happened to you to a lawyer. He or she can help you determine whether you have a case.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter, "'Price is Right' Model Wins Discrimination Lawsuit," Eriq Garnder, Nov. 21, 2012

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