American Apparel CEO's Most Controversial Moments

by Keertana Sastry

The mind behind American Apparel is no longer in charge of his own company. Controversial businessman and founder of American Apparel Dov Charney was fired from his position as CEO Wednesday night following a unanimous decision from the company's board of directors. The decision was made following investigations into his "alleged misconduct" during his time at the helm.

Charney has been the subject of many controversies since his company became popular. The founder became especially infamous in the retail world following the publication of an article by Jane Magazine that detailed his rather uncomfortable practices in the office.

Perhaps the worst part about this entire story is that Charney started American Apparel on some very commendable principals. He sold T-shirts out of his dorm room at Tufts University, became obsessed with the idea of "fit" for his clothing, and most importantly, Charney also made sure his workers were compensated fairly: he paid his retail workers up to $18 an hour, and was known for fair wage practices in American Apparel factories.

But Charney soon started running into many problems, most of which seemed due to running his mouth or questionable work practices. There were reports that some of his employees were not legally authorized to work in the United States. Then came the sexual harassment lawsuits.

As Charney exits American Apparel, here's a look at 8 of his most controversial moments.

the time Charney was Accused of Forcing An Employee To Be His Sex Slave

According to Irene Morales, Charney allegedly held her prisoner in his apartment for hours and was forced to pleasure him sexually. She also accused Charney of harassing her prior to this event.

“We’ve always held these claims to be frivolous,” said Stuart Slotnick, a lawyer for Charney. “We expect they will be dismissed.”

Indeed, the case was later thrown out of court and sent into arbitration after her case was weakened by inappropriate texts and photos she allegedly sent to Charney.

the time Charney Reportedly Masturbated In Front Of A Journalist During An Interview

This is an actual line from the Jane Magazine interview: "And thus begins another compulsive episode of what Dov likes to call self pleasure, during which we casually carry on our interview." Charney later said that masturbating in front of a woman is underrated; because it's easier on the woman, it provides "sensual pleasure," and after the guy is done they can get back to talking about whatever they want.

The Guardian explains:

In her article, Ko said she witnessed Charney masturbating at least eight times in the course of her research. She also saw him ask an assistant to perform oral sex on him. The assistant obliged, and Charney explained: "I'm not saying I want to screw all the girls at work ... but if I fall in love at work it's going to be beautiful and sexual." Ko didn't object to the peep show she was treated to - she kept thinking what great material it was for her article - and even professed afterwards to thinking fondly of Charney. "Dov Charney is a mad man and I like that," she said.


The Time He Called Employees "Sluts"

In a videotaped deposition during one of his many sexual harassment lawsuits, Charney told lawyers that he did in fact call his female employees "sluts," but maintained that it was during private conversations where "such language is welcomed." He also said that he found the term could be used in an endearing way.

the time(s) he allegedly dropped his pants at work

During the same deposition, Charney said that there's "no evidence to say that you can't walk around in your underwear all day in the United States of America." He was accused of having a meeting with an employee wearing only an article of clothing described as a "cock sock." He later said he was just trying to show her the newest product the in company's clothing line. Yup, super professional.

the time he was accused of asking Employees To Pretend To Pleasure Themselves

Another former employee alleged that one of the many sexual harassment moments from Charney came when he burst into her office and demanded that she pretend to masturbate in front of him.

the time He Allegedly Choked A Store Manager

The store manager sued the company for wrongful termination and assault after Charney allegedly called him a "wannabe Jew" and a "fag" and grabbed his throat in an attempt to choke and strangle him. Charney allegedly also rubbed dirt in the manager's face.

the times He Allegedly Fired "Ugly" Employees

In 2009, Gawker received an email from a tipster alleging that Charney was firing employees because they did not fit the particular "AA aesthetic" he was going for in the company. Basically, the store manager/tipster alleged that if Charney didn't find them good-looking enough, they were gone.

the time He Allegedly Released Nude Photos Of His Models

Three former employees, including the woman who was allegedly forced to be Charney's sex slave, accused the former CEO of posting nude photos of them on the Internet and that they were allegedly forced to pose for those photographs.

Editor's note: Charney could not be reached for comment.

Images: American Apparel (8); Wikimedia Commons