LOS ANGELES — A former model on "The Price Is Right" game show filed a lawsuit Wednesday alleging wrongful termination and sexual harassment by producers who continually humiliated and berated her, according to court papers.
In the 20-page civil complaint filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, Lanisha Cole names the producers of the popular game show, Michael G. Richards and Adam Sandler (who are not related to the well known, actor-comedians that share the same names) as well as their production company, Fremantle Media North America.
"This case is about senior-level men in the entertainment industry exploiting power and control over women by bullying and harassing female talent," said Cole's attorney, Solomon Gresen. "Ms. Cole did nothing to provoke Richards and Sandler. Once the harassment began, she was powerless to stop it."
Cole began working on the "Price is Right" in 2003 and by all accounts enjoyed a normal work environment over half a dozen years. But beginning in December 2009, the situation began to deteriorate when Richards suddenly and inexplicably stopped speaking to Cole and began showing favoritism to another model with whom he was having a relationship, the suit alleges.
According to the court papers, Richards used policies "which never before existed" to limit her modeling work on the show and engaged in abusive behavior.
She cited an incident in September 2010 when Sandler allegedly burst into Cole's dessing room despite a "Knock Before Entering" sign and castigated her for failing to wear a microphone.
Gresen said models often perform without microphones, citing cases when a wardrobe change consumes too much time to properly equip models with sound, the suit said.
"Sandler deliberately humiliated Ms. Cole in front of her peers," Gresen said of his client, who was naked from the waist up and clad only in "a very sheer thong bikini underwear bottom."
"All the women in the dressing room, including Ms. Cole, were frozen in shock until Sandler finished his tirade and stormed out of the women's dressing room," the document said
The stage manager apologized to Cole but did not report the incident. While called into a meeting about alleged sexual harassment involving another model, Cole complained about her own treatment.
Months later, Cole informed management she had to miss a day of work because of a family commitment and was told she would not be able to work for that week, the lawsuit says.
When she returned, she was told she was "holding the show hostage" because of her complaint.
Cole was described by her lawyer as "a fan favorite and the longest tenured model on 'TPIR'" at the time she left.