Wrongful Termination Claim Too Desperate for Ex-Desperate Housewives Star


A California appellate court recently rejected an attempt by Desperate Housewives star, Nicollette Sheridan, to sue for wrongful termination in violation of public policy when Touchstone failed to renew her contract past Season 5. The appellate court found that Sheridan’s claim stated a legally impossible theory, but recognized that a more limited statutory claim under the Labor Code for unlawful retaliation might still be available.

Like most television series, Sheridan’s contract for Desperate Housewives was only for the first season, with Touchstone having an exclusive option to renew Sheridan’s contract on an annual basis for six additional seasons. With Sheridan playing the character of Edie Britt, Touchstone did renew the contract for Seasons 2, 3, 4 and 5. However, during the filming of a Season 5 episode, Sheridan reported to Touchstone an alleged battery by Desperate Housewives’ creator Marc Cherry. Subsequently, while Season 5 was ongoing, Touchstone notified Sheridan that her character would be killed in a car accident that season, and that Touchstone would not be exercising its option to renew her contract for an additional year. Touchstone and Sheridan both fulfilled their remaining contractual obligations for Season 5.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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