Nicollete Sheridan’s lost a legal appeal to the California Supreme Court in the lawsuit against ABC and the Touchstone Television production company in connection with her disputed departure from Desperate Housewives.
In the original lawsuit, Nicollette Sheridan claimed that ABC wrongfully terminated her role on the show after creator/showrunner Marc Cherry allegedly physically slapped her on the set. Sheridan says she complained to the network and instead of following up on her claim they chose to fire her. The trial judge dismissed the battery accusation against Cherry, but the wrongful termination claim ended inconclusively in March in a hung jury.
Subsequently, a California appellate court ruled that instead of a new trial, the case should have ended in favor of ABC/Touchstone on wrongful termination because Sheridan’s contract was not renewed and no actual firing took place. The appeals court did determine that Sheridan might have a claim for retaliation, however, i.e., that she suffered a legal detriment in the workplace because she complained about her boss to higher-ups.
Sheridan appealed the denial of a new trial to the state’s highest court and lost in Friday’s ruling.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the potential retaliation claim means that the case is not over:
“The case likely will next be referred back to the court of appeal, which will direct the trial court to allow Sheridan to proceed with a claim that her exit from the show violates the state’s labor code. She could eventually get a new trial on these issues but ABC/Touchstone likely will try to get the case dismissed on procedural grounds.”
Under the laws of California and most other states, it is illegal to retaliate in form of a demotion, suspension, firing, or other adverse workplace action against an employee for engaging in a “protected activity” (the definition of which varies by state) such as making a good-faith complaint.
The Desperate Housewives TV series ended its eight-year run in May.