Playboy loses wrongful termination suit in California court

Playboy Magazine may be known for a lot of reasons around California and around the world. However, recently a wrongful termination suit has had Playboy Enterprise in the news. The company was sued by a former company executive. The female executive had worked for Playboy for over 10 years when she was terminated. She was 56-years-old when she says she was terminated because of her age and in retaliation for reporting fraud.

The woman says that in order to save money, the company started to systematically fire older workers — specifically workers that had been with the company for more than 10 years. Before her termination — which the woman claims she learned about from her replacement — the woman says that she received ill treatment that was designed to make her fail at her job. She claims she was not told about important meetings, and critical information to her job was withheld.

In addition to these claims, the woman says the company violated the 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley Act — a federal law — by retaliating against her for reporting fraud within the company. She says the company did not respect her status as a whistleblower.

The jury agreed with the woman and she recently won the suit. Playboy has been fined $6 million as a result of losing the suit. Additional punitive penalties could be added to this total. Playboy representatives say they are looking into their options on appeal.

Wrongful termination suits — such as this one — occur when an employer crosses the line when firing an employee. While most California employees can be fired for any reason, employers cannot fire a person in retaliation for whistleblowing or for discriminatory reasons — such as the employee’s age, race or gender. When these violations occur, employees — like the woman in this case — have legal rights and may be entitled to compensation.

Source: The Wrap, “Playboy Must Pay $6 Million to Fired Executive in Largest Federal Whistleblower Verdict Ever,” L.A. Ross, March 5, 2014

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