Shana Hiatt, the woman who served as hostess for seasons one through three of the World Poker Tour broadcasts filed a lawsuit against her former employer in Los Angeles on Friday. The suit seeks injunctive relief, as well as punitive damages for what the suit claims is 'intentional interference with economic advantage'. The suit names World Poker Tour Enterprises, Steve Lipscomb personally, and several unnamed 'John Does' affiliated with the WPT.
According to the complaint, the problems started earlier this summer, when Hiatt's representatives were contacted by NBC about the possibility of her working on a couple poker programs for the Network. One show they were interested in Hiatt for was the highly successful NBC National Heads Up Championship show, the other was a proposed show called Poker After Dark. The story first surfaced after a rumor about the trouble was posted on Wicked Chops Poker a little over two weeks ago. Both parties have been silent about the issue until this filing.
The complaint goes on to assert that upon finding out about NBC's advances, WPTE CEO Steve Lipscomb contacted NBC executives, and informed them that even though Hiatt was no longer shooting episodes of the World Poker Tour, she was still under contract to the WPT as part of a non-compete clause in her contract. The complaint alleges the non-compete was part of Shana's release from the WPT, a document the lawsuit claims Hiatt never signed. The complaint also asserts WPT options on Hiatt's services expired on September 11, 2006, and she should be free to seek work wherever she likes.
The suit seeks immediate injunctive relief, allowing Shana to seek employment as a TV hostess for NBC (or anyone for that matter). The initial hearing for the matter is scheduled for October 17th.
Interestingly enough, the suit also claims that Hiatt left the show because the WPT created a 'hostile working environment' in the Spring of 2005 by several people around the WPT (probably the unnamed 'Does' named in the suit) spreading rumors about Hiatt, and her husband.
This suit is the latest in a series of lawsuits filed against the World Poker Tour. Earlier this summer, seven players filed suit against the World Poker Tour, asserting unfair business practices mostly in connection with the release players are required to sign to play in WPT events.
World Poker Tour representatives did not immediately return requests for comment.
Ed note: Vince Van Patten of the World Poker Tour plays at Hollywood Poker