Latina sues American Apparel CEO for sexual harassment


So the American Apparel CEO is in hot water again.  It honestly doesn’t surprise me much after past sexual harassment accusations he’s faced and have been settled.  It’s so ironic to me how a company that pushes for immigration reform and gay marriage is also being run by a man who has repeatedly been under the microscope for such serious allegations, at times against minors.  Is he hiding behind his ‘progressive company’ and American made merchandise in order to be able to get away with other not so admirable actions?  And when should the public draw the line and stop contributing to his growing wealth?


Article: American Apparel Accuser Hid Alleged Sex Slavery Out of Shame

By: Lisa Flam

Date: May 14th 2011

The woman who filed a $250 million lawsuit accusing the founder of American Apparel of turning her into a teenage sex slave said she stayed quiet because she was ashamed and assumed such alleged behavior was virtually standard in the high-flying worlds of retail and fashion.

Irene Morales, 20, claimed in a lawsuit last week that CEO Dov Charney demanded she “send him sexually explicit photographs” in 2007 when she was a 17-year-old sales clerk for the apparel chain, and forced her to perform sex acts for eight months after she turned 18. At one point, she alleged, he held her prisoner for several hours in his New York apartment and made her engage in sexual acts.

Morales said she didn’t tell police, relatives or friends, despite months of alleged abuse.

“It’s something very shameful and embarrassing,” she said on NBC’s “Today” show this morning. “I didn’t really want to tell anyone about it.”

Morales said she was speaking out to help other potential victims of Charney, 42, who has been sued for sexual harassment in the past, NBC said. None of those cases ever went to trial, NBC said.

“I was victimized by Dov Charney, and I won’t stand for this anymore,” Morales said. “If there are possibly other women out there, they should absolutely speak up about this, because it’s wrong in every way and shape and form.”

American Apparel said the lawsuit came after Morales made “a number of extortion-like threats to expose the company to a threatened avalanche of litigation and negative publicity,” according to NBC. The company said Morales “left the company without complaint and resigned with a letter of gratitude regarding her positive experience at the company.”

The Los Angeles-based company did not respond to an e-mail sent before business hours this morning seeking comment.

A judge has ordered a hearing for later this month. Morales will have to show why the case shouldn’t move to binding arbitration, which American Apparel claims is required. The company told NBC that Morales, like all employees, signed a confidential arbitration agreement that says she won’t sue.

Asked what grounds they have to sue, Morales’ lawyer, Eric Baum, said she was forced to sign the agreement.

“She would not have gotten a job if she didn’t sign it,” he said. “The more important question to ask is, ‘Why is the company so focused on confidentiality? Why are they trying to silence Irene? What don’t they want people to know about her and this case?’”

Morales claimed the advances began almost immediately after she started working for the company in August 2007. Several months later, in December, she suffered an emotional breakdown that required her to be hospitalized for several days, according to “Today.”

Morales, at the time a high school student who had to pay rent, said she returned to work afterward because she needed the job, which paid relatively well. “I had financial responsibilities, so I didn’t quit,” she said. “I had to go back.”

Asked if she assumed the alleged inappropriate behavior would stop, she said, “I thought it was almost normal. I thought everyone in the retail, fashion industry had to go through something similar to that, but I didn’t think anything else of it.”

She said she quit in December 2008 because she was stressed out and moved to West Virginia to attend school. “I couldn’t take it any more,” she said. “I kind of got a clean start.”

But in 2010 she went back to work for the company, this time in Los Angeles. Asked to explain the move, Morales deferred to Baum.

“The victims of sexual harassment often remain silent,” he said on “Today.” “They often don’t know what to do in a situation. In Irene’s case, she needed the job. She went back to the company and immediately realized that it was a bad decision.”

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