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Cornett v. NBC Weather Plus, LLC

Other Lower Courts

January 7, 2008

Kristen Cornett, Plaintiff,
v.
NBC Weather Plus, LLC, Defendant.

Editorial Note:

This case is not published in a printed volume and its disposition appears in a table in the reporter.

COUNSEL

Counsel for Plaintiff Thomas G. Sherwood, LLC.

Counsel for Defendant Elisabeth C. Yap, Esq., NBC UNIVERSAL, INC.

OPINION

Leonard B. Austin, J.

Defendant moves for summary judgment dismissing the complaint. Plaintiff cross-moves for summary judgment in her favor on her first, third, fourth, fifth and sixth causes of action.

INTRODUCTION

By letter dated March 30, 2007, and retroactive to March 16, 2007, Plaintiff, Kristen Cornett ("Cornett"), was fired from her position as a broadcast meteorologist for Defendant, NBC Weather Plus, LLC ("NBC"), a round-the-clock weather television network.

On March 15, 2007, NBC asked Cornett to cancel vacation plans which were approved months earlier in order to help cover an impending storm. Cornett refused to do so. NBC fired her.

The question presented here is whether Cornett's employment agreement with NBC entitled it to rescind its prior approval of her vacation plans due to the impending storm, or whether Cornett's employment was wrongfully terminated. BACKGROUND

The material facts are not in dispute. Cornett entered into an employment agreement with NBC on February 24, 2006 to commence work on March 6, 2006. By e-mail dated November 7, 2006, Cornett requested approval to take time off on Friday, March 16 and Monday, March 20, 2007 (her regular days off included Saturday and Sunday, March 17 and 18). By e-mail dated December 27, 2006, Cornett's supervisor approved her vacation request. As a result, Cornett made plans to travel outside of the state, leaving March 16 and returning March 20, 2007.

On March 15, 2007, a winter storm was forecast to hit the northeast the next day. Hours before Cornett's vacation was to commence, NBC decided that all on-air staff would be needed to cover the winter storm predicted to arrive on March 16, 2007. NBC asked Cornett to postpone her vacation. She declined.

At that time, there were five broadcast meteorologists on staff at NBC. According to NBC, "all the other on-air staff reported to cover the storm" (Thein aff., 13).

A. The Contract Documents

The parties' employment agreement consists of a three-page letter and a Standard Provisions contract (Exhibit 1 annexed to the moving papers). The three-page letter contains the following provisions:

(3) Artist's services shall be performed at such times and in such places during the term as Producer may designate.

(7) Artist shall be entitled to vacation to be administered in accordance with Producer's company policy. The scheduling of such vacation shall be mutually agreed upon between Producer and Artist, but in the event of a failure to agree, Producer shall designate the vacation period, and endeavor to accommodate Artist.

(8) This Agreement constitutes the entire agreement between the parties with respect to the subject matter hereof, all prior understandings being merged herein. In the event of any inconsistency between this letter agreement and the Standard Provisions, this letter agreement will prevail.

The Standard Provisions contract provides, in pertinent part:

(7) Failure to Perform

(c) If Artist fails or refuses to perform Artist's obligations under this agreement for any reason other than an injury, illness or condition covered by the Company's Short-Term Sickness or Injury and Medical Disability policies, Company shall have the right to suspend its obligation to pay Artist during the period of failure or refusal to perform and Company may, but shall not be obligated to, extend the term of this for a period equal to all or any part of the period or aggregate of periods of such suspension. Company may exercise any or all of such rights at any time during the continuance of such any refusal of Artist to perform services hereunder up until the scheduled end date of this agreement; and Company may also terminate this agreement, whether or not it has previously exercised any of the rights specific herein.

****

(e) Company may terminate this agreement in the event of Artist's breach of any material representation, warranty, term or condition of this agreement; provided, however, that ...


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