Irene Morales, the 21-year-old former American Apparel manager who said last year that the company's notoriously sleazy founder, Dov Charney, had sexually harassed her since she was 17, will have to settle her case behind closed doors. The official reason for tossing the original $260 million lawsuit, originally slated for a Brooklyn courthouse, is because a California court already ordered the same case into arbitration. But Charney's lawyer, Stuart Slotnick, said he had argued the case shouldn't go to trial at all because Morales signed a deal when she quit the company agreeing to submit all complaints to confidential binding arbitration — the infamous American Apparel "gag rule" that we've covered before. "We've always held these claims to be frivolous," Slotnick told the NY Post. "We expect they will be dismissed."
Morales' claims — that Charney sodomized her on her 18th birthday, held her as his "sex prisoner" in his apartment for hours, and told her that she would lose her job if she didn't continue to perform sexual acts on him — are disturbing but, honestly, not all that shocking, since she's hardly the first disgruntled and traumatized employee to accuse Charney of sexual harassment. However, her case was somewhat debunked when Charney's camp released evidence that they believed proved Morales was trying to "extort" the company: a series of correspondence in which Morales showed more agency than she claimed in texts like, "I bought a fat dildo," and requests for clothes in return for "all those delicious blowjobs I would give you, and how I would lick your little asshole clean!!! And how I would love to do it again when I see you!" American Apparel's lawyer said that Morales "left the company without complaint and resigned with a letter of gratitude regarding her positive experience at the company," and asked why she waited a year to file suit if she was really so upset by her boss. In response, Morales' lawyer said his client had "serious psychiatric injuries from which she will never recover" and that she had been subjected to "extreme psychological abuse and torment" by Charney that drove her to the "verge of a breakdown" just two summers ago, in 2010.
Charney has settled a number of sexual harassment cases out of court in the past. No wonder his team is excellent at poking holes in lawsuits — a similar case by another young, female Charney accuser was similarly complicated by nude photos — and mandates that all defendants settle behind closed doors. The timing of Morales' complaints does raise questions, sure, but it's also the question of who we should trust: a teenager in the throes of "befriending" a powerful man or a celebrity CEO with a long, long history of acting beyond innapropriately with his female employees?