Legal Alert - California Jury Awards $6 Million in Sarbanes-Oxley Act Whistleblower Lawsuit
by John S. Delikanakis
A California jury recently awarded Catherine Zulfer, a former accounting executive at Playboy Enterprises, $6 million after finding that Playboy violated the whistle-blower provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (SOX) when it fired her for refusing to improperly set aside company funds for executive bonuses. The case is Zulfer v. Playboy Enterprises, Inc. et al., No. CV 12-08263 (March 5, 2014, C.D. Cal.). Section 806 of SOX provides whistleblower protection for employees of publicly traded companies who are discharged, demoted, suspended, threatened, harassed or discriminated against for lawfully providing information regarding conduct the employee reasonably believes is a violation of federal fraud statutes, SEC rules and regulations or any federal laws relating to shareholder fraud. 18 U.S.C. § 1514A(a)(1).