On August 4, news broke that Mike Richards was the frontrunner to host Jeopardy!. It only took hours for his decade-old legal issues to resurface. In 2010, Richards served as the co-executive producer on The Price is Right. During his time there, two different employees filed discrimination suits that cited Richards.
Mike Richards hadn’t spoken about his possible position as the show’s host or the lawsuits until the morning of August 9. That day, he sent a memo to the Jeopardy! staff. In the memo, Richards said that he was proud of the show and its crew. Then, he addressed the lawsuits.
Variety reprinted Mike Richards’ memo in full. About the lawsuits the Jeopardy! EP wrote,
“I want to address the complicated employment issues raised in the press during my time at The Price is Right ten years ago.” He went on to explain that the allegations made in the disputes were against the show and not him personally. Richards added, “The way in which my comments and actions have been characterized in these complaints does not reflect the reality of who I am or how we worked together…”
Further Explanation of Mike Richards’ Past Legal Issues
According to The Hollywood Reporter, model Brandi Cochran filed a discrimination lawsuit against CBS and FremantleMedia. She was a model on The Price is Right until she took time off for her pregnancy. She was not invited back to the show. This, she alleged, was due to pregnancy discrimination.
As co-EP of The Price is Right, Mike Richards was at the center of the lawsuit.
Cochran initially kept her pregnancy a secret from her co-workers. She did so because she was afraid the news would lead to her termination. However, when she finally let it slip that she was carrying twins, Mike Richards was unhappy, according to the lawsuit. Richards allegedly stormed up to the mother-to-be the day after learning of her pregnancy. Cochran said that Richards angrily asked, “Twins? Are you kidding? Are you serious?”
The jury in the suit sided with Cochran and awarded her $8.5 million in punitive and compensatory damages. However, the judge soon overturned the verdict citing poor jury instruction. Then, Cochran’s legal team appealed his decision.
A California appeals court noted that there was some evidence in the case to support the discrimination claim. They cited a holiday party in which Mike Richards allegedly said, “Go figure, I fire five models, what are the odds one of the ones that I keep gets pregnant?”
Cochran, FremantleMedia, and CBS later came to a satisfactory settlement.
The AV Club reported that Lanisha Cole, another Price is Right model, named Mike Richards and another producer in a 2011 suit. She claimed sexual harassment as well as wrongful termination. That suit was settled in 2013. By that time, Richards had been dismissed as a defendant.