Ousted "Desperate Housewives" star Nicollette Sheridan can still pursue her case on basis of California Labor Code
Nicollette Sheridan was dealt a setback in her ongoing legal battle against her former employers at "Desperate Housewives" when an appeals court shot down her wrongful termination claim against Touchstone Television Productions.
In a written decision Thursday, judges for the Second District Court of Appeal in California sided with Touchstone and ABC, declaring that Sheridan was not entitled to pursue a wrongful termination claim.
The appeals court's decision vacates a trial court's decision in April.
"By a parity of reasoning, the trial court erred when it denied Touchstone's motion for a directed verdict [blocking the wrongful termination claim]," the appeals court found. "Sheridan cannot pursue a cause of action for wrongful termination in violation of public policy because, contrary to what she claims, she was not fired, discharged or terminated. Instead, Touchstone chose only not to exercise its option to renew her contract for the next season."
Sheridan is still able to pursue legal action via a section of the California Labor Code that bars employers from retaliating against employees who complain about unsafe working conditions.
Sheridan first sued for $20 million in 2010, claiming that she was fired from "Desperate Housewives" after she complained that series creator Marc Cherry slapped her during a rehearsal. (Cherry claimed that he was merely giving her stage direction.) That suit ended in a mistrial in March, 2012.
Adam Levin, attorney for Touchstone, expressed his pleasure in the court's decision Wednesday and said that he's confident that his side will prevail on the labor code claim, if Sheridan chooses to pursue it.
"The Court of Appeal correctly found that Ms. Sheridan was not terminated. Instead, her employment ended because Touchstone elected not to renew her contract after her character, Edie Britt, died on the show," Levin said in a statement provided to TheWrap. "Her last remaining claim for wrongful termination is gone, and while she may seek to add an OSHA claim, we believe we will prevail on that claim as well."