Reality TV stardom costs you your privacy and usually your dignity. Former hedge fund president Jason Colodne says his reality TV time cost him $55 million.
Colodne was fired from his Wall Street firm—Patriarch Partners—after colleagues saw promos for the series, which according to Bravo, chronicles “the upper echelon of society where money and status are an essential way of life.” Now Colodne is suing his former firm in federal court for $55 million, arguing that they terminated him for something he did on his private time.
The firm counters by stating that Colodne never disclosed he was filming the series and officials were mortified by the “low-brow” program. “Can you imagine asking people to invest millions of dollars into a project when you’re on a show that’s basically a laughing stock?” says Hillary Richard, a lawyer for the firm.No matter the outcome, Colodne’s misfortune holds a lesson for anyone who has ever dreamed of 15 minutes of fame: You can be fired for doing a reality show. Would your job be at risk if you went on ABC's The Bachelor? (DIS) It could be if you are an “at-will employees,” or a worker without a contract, which from a legal standpoint means you can quit or be terminated at any time for any reason. (As long as it’s not discriminatory, for example, based on race or gender, or punishment for whistle-blowing.) “An employer can fire you for a good reason, a bad reason, no reason and with no notice,” says Richard Bales, a Northern Kentucky University law professor.
That means if the boss doesn’t like shoes you wear, the gum you chew or your decision to compete on Big Brother (CBS) , you’re out. A few courts in a handful of jurisdictions have established a right to privacy for employees, but it’s not the norm, says Bales. “Not many courts have recognized it and those who do have done so in a fairly limited way,” he says, citing the case of an employee who was fired for volunteering with an AIDS organization.