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Poker News: September 25, 2006

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Shana Hiatt goes after former employer for economic interference and rumour mongering

Media reports from Los Angeles in the USA are that Shana Hiatt, the erstwhile hostess of seasons 1 to 3 of the World Poker Tour broadcasts is on the litigative warpath against her former employer.

Hiatt filed actions in LA last week, naming World Poker Tour Enterprises, CEO Steve Lipscomb personally and other officials of the company. The complaint seeks injunctive relief and punitive damages for "intentional interference with economic advantage." The initial hearing for the matter is scheduled for October 17th.

Papers filed indicate that Hiatt's hassles started earlier this year when she was approached by NBC with the suggestion that there might be work for her at the network on some poker programming. WPT found out about the approach, and apparently 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. The suit also claims that Hiatt left the WPT show because a 'hostile working environment' was created in the Spring of 2005 through several people around the WPT spreading rumours about Hiatt, and her husband.

Earlier this year, seven leading poker 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.

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