Thoreson v. Penthouse Int’l, Ltd.

Ms. Thoreson brought an action against her employer to recover for 13 under New York Human Rights Law (“Executive Law § 290”).  Plaintiff worked at the men’s magazine, Penthouse, and was an aspiring actress and model.  The trial Justice found that Plaintiff was pressured into engaging in sexual activity with the company’s business associates.  Specifically, she alleged an eighteen-month liaison with a financial advisor.  Plaintiff claimed her compliance to engage in the above mentioned activities was an implicit condition of her employment, which was terminated when she refused to participate in a promotional tour in Japan because she was afraid of what she would be required to do while on tour.  The trial court found that Plaintiff had stated a sufficient cause of action for which she could recover.  The court stated, “Plaintiff’s testimony concerning this matter was contraverted only by Defendant’s blanket denial that the events took place.  I do not believe him.”  The Appellate Division affirmed the trial court’s holding.  Further, it provided that while Defendant’s “observation that Plaintiff willingly embarked upon a career which exploited her sexuality is entirely accurate, it does not preclude the subsequent withdrawal of consent to exploitation, nor does it necessarily imply consent to sexual encounters of the type complained of.”



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