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Lawyer: 'Melrose' actress violated contract with pregnancy

A scene from "Melrose Place"   
December 9, 1997
Web posted at: 3:22 p.m. EST (2022 GMT)

LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- An actress fired from the cast of the television show "Melrose Place" violated her contract when she became pregnant, a lawyer for Spelling Entertainment testified this week.

Cortez Smith, senior counsel for Spelling Entertainment, was on the witness stand all day Monday as testimony continued in Los Angeles superior court in the pregnancy discrimination lawsuit filed by actress Hunter Tylo.

Spelling is the company that produces the popular Fox television show, and Smith is the attorney who drafted the letter firing Tylo.

"I concluded that Ms. Tylo could not fulfill her contractual obligation. In my mind, she would have undergone a material change of appearance right when we started filming," Smith said.

Hunter Tylo

The "material change of appearance" he referred to in testimony was a quote from a clause found in Tylo's contract that Spelling Entertainment claims cleared the way for the firing.

Tylo was hired to play the role of a "sexy vixen" on the show in January 1996 and fired a month later after telling producers she was pregnant. Producers at Spelling said her pregnancy would prevent her from appearing "sexy" on screen.

Most of the day was spent arguing various interpretations of federal and state pregnancy discrimination laws.

"There's no case that says a pregnant actress can be fired -- especially if she can fulfill her job," said Nathan Goldberg, an attorney for Tylo, during lunch recess. "The material change law is such a red herring. This is a case about the right of a woman to hold a job, to get pregnant, have a family, and not be penalized for it."


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