We've Got Hollywood Covered

Thomas Gibson Will Have ‘a Tough Time’ Suing Over ‘Criminal Minds’ Firing, Expert Says

Actor who was dropped from CBS drama for reportedly kicking a writer would face long odds in a civil case, entertainment litigator Devin McRae tells TheWrap

As Behavioral Analysis Unit chief Aaron Hotchner on the CBS drama “Criminal Minds,” Thomas Gibson worked on hundreds of cases.

But the Case of the Wrongful Termination is one that the real-life Gibson might think twice about taking on.

The actor, who was fired from the procedural series after more than a decade last week after reportedly kicking a writer while directing an episode, has hired litigator Skip Miller, in a possible precursor to a lawsuit against his former employers. But according to Devin McRae, an entertainment litigator with Early, Sullivan, Wright, Gizer & McRae, Gibson will have a steep uphill battle against him if he takes up a civil case against CBS and/or the show’s producers.

“I think he’s gonna have a tough time,” McRae told TheWrap. “Normally there is quite a bit of language in these acting agreements that would give the right to the producer or network to terminate the actor.”

Physically attacking a coworker would seem to be pretty high on the list of fireable offenses. Even so, actors have mounted civil cases against their former employers after being canned in the past.

Charlie Sheen went after Warner Bros. Television after he was axed from the CBS comedy “Two and a Half Men” in 2011, following a marathon of erratic behavior on the actor’s part. Sheen argued, in part, that Warner Bros. was happy to employ Sheen even as he was undergoing rehab treatment, was the subject of numerous tabloid stories, and was facing a potential felony conviction.

McRae doesn’t foresee a similar argument flying in this case.

“I think it would be a lot harder for Gibson to do that here, given the conduct at issue,” McRae said. “What’s he gonna say — ‘I was kicking people before, and they were happy to employ me then, so how can they terminate me now?’ I think it’s hard to go that route when you’re dealing with physical harassment or violence to your coworkers.”

“And then, you know, what’s he gonna say is the real reason they fired him?” McRae added. “Because it looks like the real reason they fired him is because he kicked the writer.”

Even so, McRae said, a lawsuit against CBS or the series’ producers doesn’t amount to an automatic loss for Gibson.

“There might be facts that we’re not aware of,” McRae said. “Who knows what language they relied on in terminating him?”

“But generally these types of agreements have a lot of language that would allow somebody to terminate the actor for doing something like was alleged here,” he added.

Asked what type of potential arguments Gibson’s team might pursue, McRae offered, “I don’t know; nothing jumps out to me as plausible.”