Nicollette Sheridan of ABC's show "Desperate Housewives" has sued the network and series creator Marc Cherry for wrongful termination. Sheridan alleges that her character on the show was killed off after she complained that Cherry hit her in the head. ABC is also being sued because Sheridan claims it did not properly in investigate her claims that Cherry hit her and agreed when Cherry chose to fire her. A judge declared a mistrial this week, so the parties will now have to gear up for a new trial.
Sheridan also alleges that ABC and Cherry conspired to make it appear the decision to fire her occurred before the dispute with Cherry. An employee on the set of "Desperate Housewives" has come forward claiming he received an email about deleting files detailing Sheridan's termination, but he later deleted the email itself and could remember very few details about it.
Cherry and ABC both explained that Sheridan was terminated because her character, Edie Britt, was killed off for creative reasons. ABC denied destroying any documents and explained the efforts it makes to keep documents. An internal human resources investigation also cleared Cherry of any wrongdoing.
Unfortunately, if one looks beyond the celebrity hype, Sheridan's claim appears to be a common story playing out in workplaces across the country. Wrongful termination lawsuits don't just happen in Hollywood over multi-million dollar employment deals. Small businesses in New Jersey can find themselves involved in this type of litigation just as easily if they do not take care to implement and enforce firm, fair human resources policies.
Source: Reuters, "Mistrial declared in 'Desperate Housewives' trial," Piya Sinha-Roy, March 20, 2012