American Apparel Dirty Little Secret
American Apparel — I remember when I first heard of American Apparel, about eight years ago. I couldn’t believe how wonderful it sounded: sweatshop-free clothing, made right here in the U.S. of A. The company vocally supportssensible immigration reform and same-sex marriage and uses a “vertically integrated” business model that “minimizes the use of sub-contractors and offshore labor.” Sounds great, doesn’t it?
However, like Whole Foods, American Apparel suffers from a problem of a bad-apple founder and CEO — in this case, Dov Charney. More than a dozen female American Apparel employees and models have sued Charney for sexual harassment, and stories from the American Apparel offices and retail outlets suggest that the practice is widespread. Many of the allegations are extremely disturbing (“ex-employee Jeneleen Floyd sued Charney for, among other things,ordering her to pretend to masturbate, and ordering her male supervisor to pretend to masturbate in front of her.”). But perhaps even more disturbing is the fact that most of the legal cases against Charney have been derailed by the arbitration and confidentiality agreements that new employees are required to sign, preventing them from publicly suing the CEO.
Charney was also recently in hot water after he okayed a t-shirt bearing the disgusting slogan “teenagers do it better.” The company’s ads are of course widely considered to be sexist. And then there’s the time Charney was quotedsaying that domestic violence “has made a victim culture out of women.” He’s a real class act.