Brandi Cochran, a former “Price Is Right” model, who filed a lawsuit against the show’s producers over claims she was discriminated against because she was pregnant has been awarded nearly $777,000.Cochran, 41, claimed that when she attempted to return to the show in 2010 after taking a maternity leave, she was told there was no longer a position for her. Defense attorneys for the producers said that they had been satisfied with the five models who were working on the show at the time that Cochran sought reemployment. The show is jointly produced by Freemantle Media North America and the Price Is Right Productions.
Under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, “Employers must hold open a job for a pregnancy-related absence the same length of time jobs are held open for employees on sick or disability leave,” the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said.
A Los Angeles County Superior Court jury ruled in favor of Cochran, finding that she was denied reemployment on the show because of her pregnancy. However, the jury awarded her less than an eighth of the $8 million her attorneys had asked for, reported the Associated Press.
The verdict was not apparently an easy one for jurors, who began deliberations last Thursday. Jurors reportedly told Judge Kevin C. Brazile that they were deadlocked multiple times before eventually coming to a verdict in favor of the plaintiff.
The outcome likely came as something of a surprise for the show’s producers, who have previously battled similar charges in court. Several former “Price is Right” models, informally known as “Barker’s Beauties” during Bob Barker’s tenure on the program, sued the now-retired host for sexual harassment and wrongful termination. The majority of those suits were settled out of court, according to the AP.
In a statement, FreemantleMedia said that it plans to take the case to an appeals court, where it expects to be “fully vindicated.”
"We believe the verdict in this case was the result of a flawed process in which the court, among other things, refused to allow the jury to hear and consider that 40 percent of our models have been pregnant," FremantleMedia said. The company also said that the court had prevented the jury from seeing other “important” evidence that they hinted could have swayed the outcome of the verdict.