Former Playboy Executive Who Questioned Bonuses Sues Over Firing

Playboy former accounting executive Catherine Zulfer says she was fired after refusing to prepare $1 million in bonuses for top executives without board approval

Playboy's former controller has sued the company for wrongful termination, saying she was fired in retaliation for refusing to facilitate $1 million in bonuses for top executives without board approval.

The suit was filed last week in U.S. District Court, Central District, by former Playboy senior vice-president and corporate controller Catherine Zulfer, who had worked for the company for 24 years. 

In the suit she alleges that she was frozen out and then laid off after questioning an order in October 2010 by Playboy chief financial officer Christoph Pachler to prepare the bonuses. The bulk of the money, Zulfer alleges, was to go to Pachler and chief executive officer Scott Flanders.

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Zulfer said that after she refused a similar request in January of 2011, she went to Playboy’s general counsel and reported on what she saw as suspect accounting practices. It was after that, she says in the suit, that the retaliation began and she was ultimately terminated on Dec. 31, 2011.

Zulfer, who is 56, claims that she was targeted for a layoff because of her refusal to prepare the bonuses without board approval in violation of the California Whistleblower Act, and also because of her age.

A call to Playboy's offices on Sunday afternoon was not returned.

Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.