Playboy Stiffing Its Local Staff, Complain Workers in Israel

Nati Tucker
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The first edition of the Hebrew-language Playboy, dated March 2013.Credit: Haaretz
Nati Tucker

Employees of Playboy magazine's Israeli version claim they haven't been paid in months, and are accusing the local publisher of criminaly breaching in worker's right.

In a letter to Playboy founder Hugh Hefner – who had reportedly been thrilled to learn that Hebrew has a word for bunny, shfanfana - and the U.S. management, the workers claim to be owed more than 200,000 shekels collectively (over $57,000).

A Hebrew version of Playboy was launched in March 2013 by an American immigrant to Israel, Daniel Pomerantz. It was supposed to be published monthly but only six issues ever saw light

Now claims by workers and suppliers are mounting.

The company's workers – photographers, reporters and editors – hope the U.S. management will come to their aid. "With his conduct Mr Pomerantz is endangering not only us, but the Playboy brand and good name," they wrote in their letter to Hefner and the management.

They also claim Pomerantz failed to make provisions into their pension funds as required by law - despite having deducted the workers' co-pay from their paychecks. "In practice, Mr Pomerantz has long since breached all the contracts and agreements he signed with us," they wrote.

The magazine hasn't been published for months and its editorial offices stand empty, the workers wrote. "Mr Pomerantz hasn't been answering calls from employees and suppliers, and isn't reporting to anybody on the true state of affairs or business plans," they claim. When he – on rare occasion – does pick up the phone, it's to say that he has no money but some should be arriving soon, answers that proved over time to be lies," wrote the workers.

Despite the situation, Pomerantz is still maintaining the Playboy Israel page on Facebook, and the Playboy Israel site is live and kicking.

"We feel humiliated and deceived," the workers said. "When we harnessed ourselves to Mr Pomerantz' and the international Playboy vision at the start of the road, we did it eagerly, feeling honored to belong to a successful, intelligent global brand with tradition like Playboy."

Their decision to involve the American management was due in part to concern that Pomerantz might skedaddle, "leaving behind debts and scorched earth."

Subscribers don't seem happy either. In January Pomerantz advised subscribers that he would return their money for editions that never got published. He hasn't.

Nir Zemell, an attorney representing the company, commented that Playboy Israel is "doing its best" to meet its commitments to various parties, and has advised them accordingly.

Publisher Daniel Pomerantz holding an English-language edition of Playboy.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum
The Israeli workers have written of their woes to Playboy founder Hugh Hefner (left), shown with Crystal Harris, decked out in vampire gear for Halloween.Credit: Reuters

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