A few weeks ago I told you about the Price is Right model who went out on "maternity leave" for 10 months and was not rehired when she was ready to return to work. The jury awarded her $8.5 million. Well, the judge has overturned the jury's decision. He decided that he gave the jurors the wrong instructions. He should have instructed jurors that they had to decide whether the pregnancy was a substantial factor in the company's decision not to return Ms. Cochran to the show.
This case is still confusing. Assuming Ms. Cochran was entitled to a leave pursuant to the Pregnancy Disability Leave Law and the California Family Rights Act, she would not be entitled to take more than seven months of protected leave. After that point, Ms. Cochran did not have a legal right to reinstatement. Perhaps she is claiming that she was disabled and needed more time off under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) but I have not seen that suggested in anything I have read about the case.
What appears happened is that Ms. Cochran decided, after 10 months, that it was time to return to work. The company had replaced Ms. Cochran by that point. I'm not sure there was an open spot on the show at that point. So it is difficult to see how a jury could give an award in Ms. Cochran's favor.
Ms. Cochran's attorney is vowing to fight on. He claims the next jury will give him four times what the original jury awarded. Go figure.