04/06/2010 AT 3:00 PM ET
Nicollette Sheridan won’t be surprised if the legal response against her is, well, desperate.
After filing a lawsuit Monday alleging she was assaulted and then was wrongly fired from ABC’s Desperate Housewives, her lawyer alleges show creator Marc Cherry was abusive on the set – and the attorney anticipates more of the same now.
“We expect the case to be hard fought, and it will not be a surprise if ABC and Mr. Cherry try to depict Nicollette to be something other than a team player and long-standing industry professional,” says attorney Mark Baute.
Sheridan, 46, is suing for $20 million, alleging assault and battery, gender violence and wrongful termination. She says that Cherry hit her in the face when she questioned a script and that she was then killed off the show last year when she complained.
“Nicollette worked very hard on the show and was a model employee,” Baute says. “Mr. Cherry’s behavior towards Nicollette was and is nothing short of abusive and appalling. The lawsuit is not something Nicollette wanted to do, it’s something she felt compelled to do.”
Saying that Sheridan “put her heart and soul” into the role of sexy Realtor Edie Britt, Baute claims the actress went to court only because ABC rebuffed her requests for protection.
“Sometimes the only way that a safe and normal work environment can be created is when a hard-working person like Nicollette stands up for herself and her rights,” he says, “and in doing so help protect others who have had to work in a hostile environment.”
ABC Studios said in a statement Monday: “While we have yet to see the actual complaint, we investigated similar claims made by Ms. Sheridan last year and found them to be without merit.”