Carney R. Shegerian, an employee rights attorney and founder of Shegerian & Associates, a Santa Monica-based litigation law firm representing employees, disclosed the initiation of a civil rights lawsuit on behalf of Brandi Sherwood against the television game show The Price Is Right alleging discriminatory, harassing and retaliatory conduct based on her pregnancy, sex and gender. The lawsuit alleges Ms. Sherwood was terminated from her employment due to her pregnancy and its surrounding circumstances.
After working consistently for years as one of “Barker’s Beauties,” the former Miss USA was booked less and ultimately fired after the announcement of her pregnancy in which she tragically lost one of her twin babies to a congenital heart defect. Beginning in late 2008, CBS discriminated against, harassed, and retaliated against Ms. Sherwood, including making remarks about her pregnancy, her appearance, her weight, and her eating habits; removing her from the show’s web site; and not allowing her to return to work after her pregnancy leave. One of the producers even referred to Ms. Sherwood’s previous miscarriage as “Nature’s way of getting rid of a bad baby.”
On February 6, 2009, Ms. Sherwood’s son died in utero. Her doctors told her that she could carry her twins to term and deliver them both. During Ms. Sherwood’s leave producers asked her what she would like for them to tell fans who were asking about her. Ms. Sherwood asked that they not refer to her son’s death as a miscarriage. Producers ignored the topic and when fans asked when Ms. Sherwood would return they made it seem as though she was happily away on ‘mommy duty,’ when in fact for months Ms. Sherwood was making numerous, unsuccessful attempts to return to her job. Last week, on February 23, 2010, Ms. Sherwood was terminated by the show.
“The entertainment industry knows better but still continues to treat pregnant women as an undesirable group, disregarding the laws,” Shegerian says. “One would think that in 2010, with the progress our country has experienced in civil rights, pregnant women would no longer be subjected to discrimination in the workplace. Sadly, it is not so. Not even remotely,” Shegerian adds.
Ms. Sherwood was born in Idaho Falls, Idaho and was crowned Miss Teen USA in 1989. In 1997 she became Miss USA. Ms. Sherwood is the only pageant winner in history to have held both titles. Ms. Sherwood is a model and an actress. She is married and has the legal married last name of Cochran. Her surviving baby girl is named Katie. She’s a miracle after being born 3 months premature and spending her first 3 1/2 months of life in the NICU.
An experienced trial attorney, Shegerian has tried many jury trials to verdict in both state and federal court, always representing individuals that have suffered financial or emotional losses and have been wronged by employers, including major corporations. Shegerian has built a remarkable career on helping those who have been wronged in the workplace. He remains undefeated in federal jury trials and has won 14 seven figure verdicts representing employees.