Forget courting controversy with topless Muslim models or porn-filled Tumblr pages; American Apparel lands in the news today thanks to a more shocking development in the company – it's fired founder and CEO Dov Charney amid allegations of professional misconduct.
In a Julius Caesar-esque plot, the board of directors has voted unanimously to terminate Charney's employment. "We take no joy in this, but the board felt it was the right thing to do," an official statement reads. "Dov Charney created American Apparel, but the company has grown much larger than any one individual and we are confident that its greatest days are still ahead."
"Charney was totally taken by surprise, which is part of the problem," a source told the Chicago Tribune. "He’s going to fight like hell to get this company back, but he won’t succeed."
The 45-year-old Canadian set up the brand in 1989 under a sweatshop-free ethos, with all clothes manufactured in its downtown LA factory. Over the years, its ethical manufacturing was eclipsed by its racy ads and its controversial founder.
Several sexual harassment lawsuits have been filed against Charney over the years, including one case brought by four former female employees. In 2004, Jane editor Claudine Ko wrote a profile of Charney which detailed his penchant for masturbating in front of women. Charney's alleged antics do not just include sexual harassment; in 2012 he was accused of calling an employee a "wannabe Jew", a "fag" and then attempting to choke and strangle him.
American Apparel has been struggling with weak sales and has accumulated $240m in debt. Nonetheless, its board seems confident that Charney's dismissal will turn around AA's fortunes. "We have one of the best known and most relevant brands in the world," its interim chief executive officer says. "This new chapter in the American Apparel story will be the most exciting one yet."
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