Victoria Rowell isn’t getting her old job back on the long-running soap, and she’s not getting far with her retaliation lawsuit against CBS, Sony Pictures Television and producers. “Plaintiff’s first and second causes of action for failure to rehire on Y&R are dismissed, with leave to amend, if Plaintiff can do so in good faith and in conformance with the analysis in this Order,” a federal judge told the former The Young & The Restless actress yesterday (read it here).
This doesn’t mean Rowell’s 9-month legal pursuit of the network and the producers for not putting her back on the show she “reluctantly” left in 2007 is completely over. For instance, Judge John Kronstadt rejected CBS and Sony’s First Amendment and anti-SLAPP moves against her case. However, the actress got a hard amended road ahead in terms of the retaliation claims in trying to prove she was punished because of being outspoken about the need for greater diversity on Y&R and other soaps. Attempting to re-join the show since 2010, Rowell has claimed that not only has CBS and Sony refused to heed fans’ demands and bring her back to Y&R, but that they have “worked behind the scenes” to hamper her ability to appear at paid speaking events and conferences. The judge disagreed on the latter allegations and dismissed them too.
But the return to Y&R is the real heart of this case, which Rowell first filed in NY in February.
The actress’ first amended complaint, filed subsequently this year, “does not allege that Plaintiff applied for an open position on Y&R after she left the program,” wrote the U.S District Judge on November 10. “Indeed, it does not allege that there ever was an open position on Y&R for which she was qualified.”
“Plaintiff cites no case law that supports her position that a prima facie retaliation claim can be made due to an alleged failure to rehire as a result of a refusal to create a new position or reopen an old one,” Judge Kronstadt adds. Part of Rowell’s multi-headed argument is that a return to the Drucilla Barber Winters role she played for 17 years on Y&R should be no big deal because characters are killed off or leave soaps and come back all the time.
Rowell “claims that there is always a position that is constructively open,” said the judge. “This alone is not a sufficient basis to state a claim. Indeed, such an approach has the potential to open the door to vast number and wide variety of claims in many industries in which those who did not pursue open positions claimed that employers should have created them.”
So, in true soap style, now it’s all a question of what further filing walks through the courtroom door.
Dan Stormer and Mohammad Tajsar of Hadsell Stormer & Renick LLP represent Rowell with Cyrus Mehri and Michael Lieder of Mehri & Skalet PLLC plus Robert John Valli Jr., Sara Wyn Kane and Sumantra Tito Sinha of Valli Kane & Vagnini LLP.
John Lecrone, Elizabeth Carroll and Matthew Peterson of Davis, Wright & Tremaine LLP are handling things for CBS and Sony Pictures TV. Fellow defendants Corday Productions, Bell-Phillip TV Productions and Bell Dramatic Serial Company have their own representation.