Dov Charney's Sketchy, Scandalous History

Now that Dov Charney's being sued — or, as he believes, extorted — for sexual assault (to the tune of $260 million), let's take a look at his past pervitudes, meltdowns, questionable management practices, and brushes with the law.

June/July 2004

In a soon-to-be notorious Jane profile of Charney, Claudine Ko wrote,

Soon enough, he loosens his Pierre Cardin belt. [...] thus begins another compulsive episode of what Dov likes to call self pleasure, during which we casually carry on our interview, discussing things like business models, hiring practices and the stupidity of focus groups.

"Masturbation in front of women is underrated," Dov explains to me later over the phone. "It's much easier on the woman. She gets to watch, it's a sensual experience that doesn't involve a man violating a woman, yet once the man has his release, it's over and you can talk to the guy."

July 2006

An anonymous former employee told Dateline "It was understood that Dov was looking for sex almost constantly. [...] He was looking for sex from his employees." Six other former employees backed up his account. By this time, three women had sued Charney for sexual harassment. Two settled — the third was Mary Nelson, who sued Charney for a "reign of sexual terror" that included taking meetings wearing only "a garment described as a 'cock sock.'"

January 2008

When CNBC reporter Margaret Brennan brought up Nelson's ongoing suit in an interview, Charney subjected her to a ten-minute, curse-laden tantrum.

June 2008

Another 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.

October 2008

Nelson's lawyers accused Charney of trying to trick them into a fake arbitration that would make it look like Charney had been exonerated — in response, he said he was actually the victim.

April 2009

Woody Allen sued American Apparel for using his picture (a still from Annie Hall) on a billboard. In a memo defending the billboard, Charney's assistant Iris Alonzo wrote,

Some of you may know that the billboards with Woody Allen's picture, and the text 'Our Spiritual Leader' (that's what the Hebrew [sic] letters said) were intended to be a social statement and not an ad. We making [sic] a comparison between Woody Allen and Dov and the scene in Annie Hall where Alvi [sic] is judged by his girlfriend's grandmother. At the time, many people consumed [sic] with the sexual harassment lawsuits that we were facing, and through that experience, we saw firsthand what media scandal feels like and how quickly the truth gets lost.

She also said the billboard "was in no way intended to sell clothing." American Apparel eventually agreed to pay Allen a $5 million settlement.

July 2009

An American Apparel store manager told Gawker that Charney "made store managers across the country take group photos of their employees so that he could personally judge people based on looks. He is tightening the AA 'aesthetic,' and anyone that he deems not good-looking enough to work there, is encouraged to be fired. This is blatant discrimination based on looks."

December 2009

A copy of "Dov's Newsletter" sent to us deemed Brooke Shield's eyebrows a "yes" — and an unnamed AA employee's a "no."

June 2010

A source told Gawker that American Apparel's new hiring policy required each employee to submit photos for hiring or promotion: "Your looks determine your position and pay rate, not how effective you are at your job." And a former manager recalled being told what "kind" of black women to hire:

none of the trashy kind that come in, we don't want that. we're not trying to sell our clothes to them. try to find some of these classy black girls, with nice hair, you know?

In response, AA issued a statement reading, in part,

American Apparel does not hire or retain applicants based on 'beauty.' Our main priority is finding people with a strong sense of style who can inspire customers as they make selections from our extensive line.

June 2010

Gawker received an internal email on "grooming" standards for "females," including the following:

Eyebrows must not be overplucked. Full eyebrows are very much encouraged. Please do not dye your eyebrows a different color.

Eyebrows are apparently a big thing for American Apparel.

October 2010

BNET reported that Charney took home a $1.1 million bonus for the year 2009, despite the fact that American Apparel had to fire 1,800 workers because of immigration concerns, and saw its stock price plummet.

December 2010

American Apparel's auditors (who had previously quit, citing major doubts about the company's accounting), told the SEC that the company's financial reports for the previous fiscal year "should not be relied upon." According to Going Concern, the auditors felt that "APP management was more or less full of shit."

Is Charney "full of shit" in his recent claims that his legal troubles are just the result of lawyers out to extort him? Only time will tell, but one thing's for sure — this is far from the first time he's been in hot water.

Earlier: Former Employee Sues Dov Charney For Sexual Assault

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