5 scandals surrounding sacked American Apparel boss Dov Charney that you need to know about

Downfall of the highly controversial maverick entrepreneur

The retail entrepreneur and founder of cult fashion label American Apparel, Dov Charney, was voted out by the label’s board of directors on Wednesday.

This is despite him creating the company when he was just 20, and leading its growth into 249 retail stores and 20 countries.

American Apparel’s website stated: “The Board’s decision to replace Mr. Charney grew out of an ongoing investigation into alleged misconduct.”

Here are some of the scandals surrounding him that you need to know about:

Charney accused of sexual harassment, multiple times

Charney is embroiled in multiple sexual harassment lawsuits – and many believe that it’s these which have caused the most pain and led to the board’s decision earlier this week. Celebrity website Gawker.com is the place to go for the full rundown. Charney denies all charges.

Woody Allen sues American Apparel for $5m (which Charney pays only because his insurers make him)

In May 2009, Woody Allen sued American Apparel on the grounds that the company “calculatingly took my name, my likeness, and image and used them publicly to promote their business”. He was referring to two billboards the retail chain put up in 2007 that featured a still image of Allen taken from his film Annie Hall that feature him dressed as an Orthodox Jew. The giant ad featured a line in Yiddish calling Allen “the High Rabbi”.

Though the retailer took the boards down within a week – following objections from Allen – this wasn’t enough to prevent Charney & co from having to pay a $5m settlement. Of the payout, Charney wrote: “The vast majority of this payment will be paid by our insurance carrier who is responsible for the decision to settle this case and has controlled the defence of this case since its inception… For the record, I personally think we had a good case.” You can read the statement in full here.

Chaney allegedly threw dirt at an employee

In 2012 Chaney and the brand hit headlines once again when a former employee, Michael Bumblis, accused the then-CEO of throwing dirt at him and calling him a “fag” and “wannabe Jew”. The one-time manager said he was wrongly fired and insulted for complaining about Charney to colleagues. Charney denies all accusations and the case is ongoing.

Charney “vetted” employees by hiring only those who supplied full body shots

It’s no secret that American Apparel is apparel for skinny people. Much of their collection is dancewear, and dancers are, generally, pretty slim. So when the brand was accused in 2009 of ordering store candidates to supply full body shots, we were shocked, but not that surprised.

The story broke on celebrity website gawker.com, which published quotes from a hacked-off American Apparel store manager: “Dov personally judged each person in group photos that were sent in, and if you weren’t to his liking, then boy… watch out. The comments that he made were raging from childish ones to insulting ones. Managers that don’t comply with these new standards are afraid of losing their jobs.” Ouch.

Charney puts pubic hair on mannequins

Fast forward to January this year and American Apparel causes outcry again. This time it’s not one of the 10,000-strong workforce complaining, but the public complaining about, er, some mannequins. In its New York stores, the defenceless plastic models were decorated with pubic hair at a time when the rest of the city were doing their bit to keep everything covered up away from the sub-zero temperatures. Naturally the PR stunt hit headlines, briefly turning the attention away from the CEO and onto the, well, mannequins.  

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