The Price is Wrong: Model Sues Game Show for Sexual Harassment

Lanisha Cole has filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against the producers of the popular game show, The Price Is Right. Cole, one of the longest tenured models in The Price Is Right’s history, has accused the producers of humiliating her, berating her, sexually harassing her, and ultimately wrongfully terminating her, according to a 20 page civil complaint that her lawyers filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

Cole started working on the game show back in 2003 (during the Bob Barker era). She enjoyed a normal, fun environment at work for more than six years. However, in late 2009, she allegedly began having difficulties with two of the show’s producers, Adam Sandler and Michael Richards (neither man is related to the comedians of the same names). Richards apparently started having a sexual relationship with a different model and began offering her preferential treatment. Richards enacted policies “which never before existed” to curtail Cole’s modeling work.

In a separate incident, the following September, the other producer, Sandler, allegedly burst into Cole’s dressing room despite a “Knock Before Entering” sign and castigated her failing to wear microphone… “Sandler deliberately humiliated Ms. Cole in front of her peers. [She was wearing nothing but] a very sheer thong bikini underwear bottom… [and] all the women in the dressing room, included Ms. Cole, were frozen in shock until Sandler finished his tirade and stormed out of the women’s dressing room.”

Ms. Cole complained to higher-ups about what was happening to her. Shortly thereafter, she was terminated – allegedly, the producers accused of her “holding the show hostage” because of her sexual harassment complaints.

This story illustrates three relevant lessons:

Lesson #1: Sexual harassment can happen in any workplace.

Just because you work on a game show – ostensibly a fun, frivolous environment – does not inoculate you from potential mistreatment, mean bosses, and unfair working conditions.

Lesson #2: Bad behavior can start months or even years after you get hired.

In this case, Ms. Cole allegedly spent six plus very good years working on the show with no problems whatsoever. Her situation degraded only after one of the producers began to have an affair with her co-worker. So there aren’t always warning signs.

Lesson #3: Harassment and abuse can “accrete” and get worse over time.

Certainly, you can find incidences where a single catastrophically unwise act (a boss trying to grope an underling on a company retreat, for instance) has merited legal action. But many cases are similar to Ms. Cole’s case – abuse, harassment, discrimination, and other bad treatment occuring in small, chronic, poisonous doses — often escalating — before the victim takes action.

For help with your case, connect with an experienced New York sexual harassment, discrimination, wage and hour violation law firm. Joseph & Kirschenbaum can help you understand how to protect yourself, get abusers to stop, and possibly even seek significant compensation. Call us now at (212) 688-5640 or connect with us at www.jhllp.com.