PHILADELPHIA, PA – Hugh Hefner died this week at the age of 91. Back in 1953, Hefner launched Playboy with a naked centerfold of Marilyn Monroe. The photo was taken years earlier in 1949 and bought for only $500 when Monroe was a struggling actress and desperate for money. That first issue sold over 50,000 copies and the rest is history.

Looking back at his life, arguments cut both ways for whether he was the liberator of women or really just an old sleaze. Did he push women forward, or hold a woman back?
On the one hand, some take the view that Hefner was a political activist of women’s sexual liberation and freedom of expression. His defenders, and defenders of the Playboy lifestyle, claim that the Playboy bunnies freely decided their destinies, Hefner treated them well and that he provided Playboy’s Playmates with career-boosting exposure.
On this side, some women glorified and pay tribute to Hefner for what he allowed them to do with their lives. One admirer, former Baywatch star Pamela Anderson graced 14 Playboy Magazine’s covers. Anderson commented, “I am me because of you… You taught me everything important about freedom and respect.”
Victoria Silvstedt, the 1997 Playmate of the Year, similarly commented, “My association with Hugh Hefner and Playboy magazine has had a transforming effect on my life. I’m so glad he contacted me after winning the Miss Sweden competition.”
Another defender, Camille Paglia, professor of humanities at the University of Philadelphia, is a longtime defender of Hefner. She wrote, “I have gone out of my way to publish in and endorse Playboy, which has been vilified by both mainstream and anti-porn feminists,”
On the other hand, many other women and feminists have an entirely different view. They dismiss Hefner’s self-depiction as a “liberator,” and instead accuse him of “objectifying” women; that he was nothing more than a glorified pimp because he procured, solicited, and made profits from women selling sex. Was this really a fair and legal quid pro quo exchange, Hefner offering young girls wealth and fame in exchange for offering their bodies in the name of Playboy?
In the end, I will let you the reader decide.
The Playboy mansion is a complex situation and is not your typical work environment, but it is nevertheless subject to discrimination laws. There are many protections under Federal, State, and city laws that make discrimination based on one’s sex and sexual harassment illegal.
Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Law of 1964, sexual harassment is considered a form of gender discrimination because it is harassing conduct that occurs because of an individual’s gender. There are two types of sexual harassment: “quid pro quo” and “hostile environment.”
Unwelcome sexual conduct constitutes sexual harassment when submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment. Sexual harassment includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature, including text messages and emails.
Quid pro quo roughly translates to “this for that.”  Quid pro quo harassment occurs when submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting such individual. Quid pro quo is a type of sexual harassment that occurs in the workplace when a manager or other authority figure offers, or merely hints, that if the employee satisfies a sexual demand, that in return he or she will affect the employee’s employment in a positive or negative way (give or take away a raise, grant a promotion, terminate the employee, etc.).
Further, to succeed on a claim of retaliation, a Plaintiff must that his or her complaints of sexual harassment (or discrimination in general) was used as the basis for decisions affecting the compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of his or her employment.

Whether it is the entertainment industry or a more typical type of workplace, gender discrimination is rampant in the America landscape. If you feel you have been the victim of workplace discrimination or sexual harassment in New York City, Miami, New Jersey or Philadelphia or if your employment rights have been violated, call us at 800-807-2209 for a free consultation to discuss your possible claim. Our attorneys are available to review your claims and prepare a solid case to recover the damages and justice you deserved.

About Derek Smith

Attorney Derek T. Smith is an experienced sexual harassment & discrimination law litigator who has particular experience in the areas of workplace discrimination, sexual harassment, wrongful termination, civil rights litigation, employment law and civil litigation.

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