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An ex-Playboy executive is suing Hugh Hefner’s bunny empire, claiming Playboy’s CFO fired her when she wouldn’t dredge up the money for his bonus.Catherine Zulfer, a senior vice president and corporate controller for Playboy Enterprises, claims in a recently filed lawsuit that CFO Christoph Pachler pressured her to raise $1 million in bonuses for the company’s executives in the third quarter of 2010 — a period in which the company didn’t do well financially, Courthouse News Service reported Friday.
But Zulfer, who believed all bonuses had to be approved by the company’s board, said she eventually blew the whistle on Pachler’s alleged scheme to Playboy’s general counsel and the Securities and Exchange Commission. (The suit doesn’t say what the SEC did about Zulfer’s information.)
“She was extremely concerned that CFO Pachler and/or CEO [Scott] Flanders were attempting to effectively embezzle, steal or convert Playboy assets,” Zulfer states in her lawsuit, adding that she thought Pachler’s request was “dishonest to shareholders.”
After she reported the alleged scheme, Zulfer claims she was shut out of meetings and forced to take on an unprecedented workload when the company downsized its Chicago staff.
She was then fired on New Year’s Eve 2011, an act she calls merely a “pretext for what actually was retaliation” against her, according to CNS.
Pachler is not named in Zulfer’s suit. She is seeking punitive damages and either reinstatement or front pay. Playboy Enterprises didn’t immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment Monday.
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