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One might assume that with all his experience, age, wisdom and age, an employer like Hugh Hefner might be able to foresee and forestall little problems like the current age discrimination suit that just got handed to the also-aging Playboy Enterprises. According to former guest relations coordinator for the Playboy Mansion, Jennifer Lewis, the Playboy company just doesn't appreciate a gal after she turns 47.
In her suit filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, Ms. Lewis claims that during the last year of her employment, she was singled out and subjected to a hostile work environment that was so difficult she was placed on anti-depressants.
Workers over the age of 40 are protected from discrimination based on age under the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). However, claims under the ADEA can be hard to prove. The employee must show that the adverse action taken (for instance, firing, or refusal to promote) was intentionally done by the employer due to the employee's age. In Lewis's case, she was a replaced by a younger employee (a 33 year-old, 30 really is the new 20). While this fact can strengthen an employee's case, but is not considered conclusive proof that an employer is guilty of discrimination.
At this time, no damages are specified by the suit. Even though a suit such as this may not break the bank at bunny headquarters the company, much like its founder, is no longer as agile as it once was and can't really afford extra expenditures. Like other print organizations, Playboy reported a loss last year with Q4 figures listed in February '09 at - $145.7 million.
Unfortunately for Lewis, much like Hefner's bevy of discarded wives and girlfriends, she can only claim now that she gave "over ten of the best years of her life," to the Playboy organization. There has been no comment from Playboy Enterprises at this time; perhaps when Hef wakes up from his nap.