Most of us are probably familiar with the popular clothing brand American Apparel. Their clothing is worn by countless young adults across the country. However, if you’ve ever seen any of their advertising — correction: any of their advertising for women’s clothing — you’ve probably felt a little uncomfortable and confused at the lack of apparel in their photos.
American Apparel has made a name for itself by hyper-sexualizing women in its advertising by featuring as little clothing as possible, showing barely covered (if at all) breasts and genitals as well as highly suggestive positioning. These ads have not gone over well with the public, causing the company to reportedly lose over $100 million in the past 4 years. Clearly, the company has one thing on its mind, and that has been exemplified by the now former CEO, Dov Charney.
Charney spent the majority of his career defending the company’s decisions in advertising when met with obvious criticism. He failed to gain credibility from the start, having been accused of several sexual relationships and encounters with staff members. This sexual misconduct has not stayed within the walls of American Apparel, either.
In 2004, Charney was accused of masturbating repeatedly during interviews with Jane Magazine. A few years later, he was sued for sexually harassing an employee; and, most recently, a young employee attempted to sue for being coerced into sexual acts over a period of 18 months. The last suit was dropped, though, after it was found out that she had sent the CEO nude pictures. It has since been discovered that Charney misused company money to have said photos posted online. None of these claims of harassment ever went to trial.
The board has said that it is no longer practical to keep Charney on because of their rising insurance premiums. “The Company’s employment practices liability insurance retention has grown to $1 million from $350,000, causing an unacceptable level of risk for the Company, and the premiums for this insurance are well outside of industry standards,” states Charney’s dismissal notice.
As to be expected, Charney has claimed that he plans to dispute his termination, and he has the support of some shareholders in the company. According to his filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, he believes that his being fired has come without merit. A letter from his attorney states that if he is not reinstated, legal action will be pursued.
When the board announced Charney would be fired, American Apparel’s stock rose by 19% the next morning.