When Los Angeles employees notice illegal activity in the workplace or are asked to do something that does not seem ethical, employees have every right to report the illegal or unethical conduct.

However, employees might choose not to say something if they fear that they will lose their jobs or be retaliated against in the workplace. California employees who are in this type of situation or who have lost their jobs after reporting illegal conduct should know that there are state and federal laws in place that are meant to protect whistleblowers from wrongful termination and retaliation.

One woman who was in this type of situation while working for Playboy recently decided to exercise her legal rights. She claims that she was fired after she had raised concerns about the company’s CEO and CFO. According to the lawsuit, the woman suspected the CEO and CFO of attempting to embezzle $1 million of the company’s money.

The woman had worked at Playboy for more than 20 years. The last position she held at the company before she was fired was senior vice president and corporate controller. In 2011, she was allegedly asked by the company’s CEO and CFO to accrue $1 million in bonuses for them. However, they told the senior vice president that she did not have to get the request approved by the company’s board. Believing that the board needed to be aware of the bonuses, the woman reported the request. By the end of the year, the woman was fired.

She believes that she was fired for blowing the whistle on the CEO’s and CFO’s illegal conduct. She claims that Playboy violated California’s whistleblower protection laws, and now she is seeking damages for the company’s wrongdoing. She may be entitled to back pay and other compensation if it is discovered that the company had retaliated against her for reporting illegal conduct in the workplace.

Source: Huffington Post, “Catherine Zulfer, Ex-Playboy Exec, claims she was fired for reporting CEO’s embezzlement scheme,” Harry Bradford, Oct. 1, 2012