Monthly Archives: September 2015

An Employee Cannot Be Fired For Refusing to Perform an Illegal Activity in the Workplace

Unfortunately, our firm frequently receives calls from potential clients telling us that they have been fired for refusing to take part in an illegal and unethical activity. Under California and Federal law, it is unlawful for an employer to take adverse action against an employee, whether it be demotion, deduction in pay, or termination, for refusing to participate in a violation of law. If your employer has retaliated against you for refusing to take part in violating the law, contact a whistleblower lawyer immediately.

Zulfer v. Playboy Enterprises Inc.

Here is a classic whistleblower case to come out of the 2014 federal court docket. Plaintiff had been working as an executive in Playboy’s accounting department for roughly thirty years. During her employment, the CFO asked plaintiff to accrue over $1 million dollars in executive bonuses on the company ledger. However, she refused to do so without Board approval as it would violate federal law, specifically a law under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. Again, the CFO asked the plaintiff to do this, but she refused again. Several months later, Playboy eliminated plaintiff’s position. She continued to work for Playboy though in another position, but was eventually terminated soon after her position was eliminated.

Playboy argued that plaintiff’s termination was not based on her refusing to take part in what she alleged as a violation of law. Rather, Playboy contended that the decision to terminate plaintiff was based on valid business reasons. The jury was not convinced by defendant’s arguments, and unanimously found in favor of the plaintiff. Jury awarded a gross verdict of $6 million to plaintiff finding that Playboy retaliated against the plaintiff for refusing to take part in the violation of Sarbanes Oxley.

Contact a Whistleblower Attorney if You Have Been Retaliated Against

Zulfer v. Playboy is a classic example of what an employer should not if an employee refuses to take part in an illegal activity. What Playboy did here was unlawful. It is illegal for an employer to terminate an employee for refusing to take part in a violation of law. If you feel that your employer has taken adverse action against you, whether it be a deduction in pay, demotion, or termination, for refusing to violate the law, then contact an whistleblower lawyer immediately.

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Filed under Retaliation, Wrongful Termination