Oprah's Harpo sued by fired fitness trainers

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Oprah's Harpo sued by fired fitness trainers

Thu Feb 25, 2010 @ 10:56AM PST

By Eriq Gardner

Oprah Oprah Winfrey wants her employees to be fit. But she doesn't want her company's fitness trainers to talk about their job.

Two trainers have filed a breach-of-contract lawsuit against Oprah's Harpo Inc., alleging they were terminated from an assignment to create a fitness program for employees with the potential of making the "O Fitness Challenge" into a segment for the "Oprah" TV show.

According to the complaint, filed on Monday in Illinois circuit court, Dina Castillo and Frank Nunez had their contract canceled after the two allegedly violated the confidentiality provisions of the agreement. The trainers say they were hired to create a "customized fitness program" for Harpo staff, and after 341 employees were enrolled, they were asked to participate in an Oprah Radio XM program hosted by Winfrey's former personal trainer Bob Green.

They did so, but then they attempted to publicize their appearance. That's not one of Oprah's favorite things. Afterward, the two were let go. Attempting to collect more than $63,000 in compensation they claimed they were owed, Harpo's general counsel informed them their services were "voluntary" and that they had violated a confidential assurances agreement.

The couple is seeking damages to compensate them for the fair value of the services performed. The complaint was filed by William Niro at Chicago's Niro Scavone Haller & Niro.

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The Hollywood Reporter, Esq. blog focuses on how the entertainment and media industries are impacted and influenced by the law. It is edited by Matthew Belloni with contributions from veteran legal reporter Eriq Gardner and others. Before joining The Hollywood Reporter, Belloni was a lawyer at an entertainment litigation firm in Los Angeles. He writes a column for THR devoted to entertainment law. Gardner is a New York-based writer and legal journalist. Send tips or comments to Matthew.Belloni@thr.com

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