Dov Charney of American Apparel in court
More proof that male privilege is not a viable business model:
His Way Meets a Highway Called Court
According to some former employees, however, sex is used for more than selling clothes at American Apparel. In two separate sexual harassment lawsuits, three plaintiffs who worked on American Apparel's administrative and sales staffs charge that they endured sexual misconduct and innuendo and an environment in which women did not feel safe.
The culprit, they say, is Mr. Charney, 36, a retailing maverick from Montreal, who founded the company in 1997 and now has 4,500 employees, more than 50 stores in five countries and annual sales of $250 million.The suits, filed in the last six weeks in Los Angeles Superior Court by a sales manager, a recruiter and a trade show coordinator, accuse Mr. Charney of behavior that ranges from inappropriate to bizarre.
Among the allegations: using crude language and gestures, conducting job interviews in his underwear, ordering the hiring of women in whom he had a sexual interest and giving one of the plaintiffs a vibrator.
In court papers Mr. Charney denied all the allegations. And in an e-mailed statement he said, "In my opinion their lawsuits are a false attempt to extort money from my company and exploit my transparent persona." [Emphasis added]
Obviously, we shouldn't prejudge the case against Charney. He deserves his day in court like everyone else. However, as Amanda and other bloggers noted over the past few weeks, multiple convergent reports suggest the CEO of American Apparel runs his business as a sexual peonage system.
American Apparel makes a great product and treats their employees very well by industry standards. Their marketers and advertisers are geniuses who have built a global brand for a seemingly unbrandable product. American Apparel makes knits with no labels, no prints, no seasonal collections, and no difficult-to-sew materials. These radical simplifications enable high volume production at low cost. AA passes some of those savings on to its employees in the form of higher wages and better benefits, a policy that becomes fodder for their savvy marketing to ethical consumers. (Unfortunately AA is not only sweatshop free, but also union-free. Charney opposed a unionization drive, despite his promises never to interfere with unionization efforts.)
Dov Charney needs to get over his "transparent persona" and run his business. I would hate to see his irresponsible behavior drive such a promising company into the ground.