Fired executive files employment litigation suit


In New Jersey and elsewhere, no one likes to be fired. When it happens, the terminated employee may want to seek recourse through employment litigation. Take, for example, a former executive at Playboy who recently sued the company for wrongful termination.

According to the former senior vice president and corporate controller, who was a 24-year veteran of the company, Playboy fired her in retaliation for her unwillingness to pay lucrative bonuses to top executives without pre-approval from the company's board of directors.

Specifically, the former executive claims that she balked at preparing bonuses for top executives on two separate occasions. Following the second occasion, the former executive allegedly reported suspect accounting practices to the company's general counsel. After these refusals to the chief financial officer's orders to prepare bonuses, much of which would have gone to the chief financial officer, the former executive claims she was frozen out and later laid off by the company.

Like the former Playboy executives, New Jersey residents who get fired may have legal options. It depends on whether the person who was terminated has an employment contract. If the person does not have an employment contract then they are probably an "at will" employee. In that case, the person's employer can fire them for little to no reason, unless that reason is illegal, such as discrimination or retaliation for complaining about unsafe condition or illegal activities.

In contrast, employees with an employment contract usually have greater protection. That protection is typically spelled out in the contract. When it does not, open-ended clauses like "for cause" generally are construed to mean that the employer must have a valid business reason to justify firing the employee.

Source: The Wrap, " Former Playboy Executive Who Questioned Bonuses Sues Over Firing," Todd Cunningham, Sept. 30, 2012