Is American Apparel’s Dov Charney the new Larry Flynt?

dovchaney.jpgOn Friday night Dateline NBC aired a story focusing on harrassment charges against the CEO of American Apparel, Dov Charney (pictured). NBC says that a number of different employees in different cities contend that Dov was constantly looking for employees to have sex with, and commonly used inappropriate language.

More interesting than the debatable charges against him are the actions and opinions he openly refers to that constantly remind me of quotables from “The People vs. Larry Flynt”. For example:

I frequently drop my pants to show people my new product.

I’m not saying I want to screw all the girls at work… but if I fall in love at work it’s going to be beautiful and sexual.

When asked about his view of sexual rendevouz by employees during work hours, Dov gives a nod of approval so long as the participants are on break:

if it’s if no one could see them and or there is a reasonable expectation of privacy, I’m not going to run rush in like some Nazi and tell them to stop having consensual activities.


While NBC also interviewed employees who spoke glowingly of Dov, the piece is largely negative… but endlessly entertaining. One portion is dedicated to Jane Magazine reporter Claudine Ko’s own interview of Dov Charney, throughout which Dov oftened masturbated in front of her and even had intercourse with his assistant. Ko’s reaction?

You know, at no point did I ever think I’m gonna walk out of this room or I am uncomfortable. I just thought, “This is gonna be a fantastic story.”

Full story here… previous blogging.la articles on American Apparel here, here, and most prophetically here.

(photo from Is It Cool Enough For Marty? via Flickr)

5 Replies to “Is American Apparel’s Dov Charney the new Larry Flynt?”

  1. Interesting corporate synergy at work: I noted a quick story about American Apparel on NBC’s Today Show last week as well – it was, I felt, much more positive of the company and its face than the way you describe the dateline piece.

    Of course, SF Metblog readers and even some at AmApp itself know full well how I feel about their company (http://sf.metblogs.com/archives/2005/09/love_webzine_ha.phtml). And I think my favorite comeback from them was that I am clearly uncomfortable with my sexuality. uh-huh.

    Let’s take out the accusations for a moment – at the end of the day you still have a guy whose main “contribution” to fashion is making t-shirts smaller than the normally are. Woohoo. And again, even if he’s nothing but supportive and noble with his employees, his ads are still a big pile of poo as well.

    I’m hoping he’s nearing minute 14 . . . .

  2. Thanks, “Closer”… I actually have that link at the very top of my post, but maybe I needed to point it out a little more.

    CD, I wouldn’t bag on anyone for “just” making t-shirts, but if the allegations are true it is ironic that a company that prides itself on not exploiting overseas sweatshop workers may be exploiting the sexuality of its own staff.

  3. After reading the MSNBC article, I think I understand the situation better, but let me tell you why it sucks:

    Mr. Dov Charney created a work atmosphere where sexual comments, borderline and real sexual harassment, and even actual sex are commonplace. By stating that this behavior is ‘acceptable’ in an employee handbook, the company seems to be legally covered in case somebody gets offended or greedy enough to take legal action against them. I understand the stance he and his employees take, i.e.: “If you don’t like it, then don’t work here…” and I would agree with it…. if you were working for Larry Flynt or Hugh Hefner.

    However: This is a clothing company, not a pornographic magazine or adult film production company… You would have a reasonable claim that you are not working in the sex industry. So how long until every smarmy, sex obsessed business owner writes an employee handbook of their own to circumvent sexual harassment laws and “If you don’t like it, then don’t work here…” becomes the norm? Won’t women in particular be ‘forced’ to work in highly sexual atmospheres that are inappropriate to the type of businesses because EVERY business can point to the Tee Shirt Guy who set a precedent for it? Isn’t that running back into the dark ages where a woman had to endure, against her will, all manner of abuse to keep her job? Yes, it’s all hypothetical, but it’s also a very real possibility.

    I’m not a prude, I can honestly understand what attracts people to the company, and I’m sure most everybody knew what they were getting into before they started working there… But I personally wouldn’t work there, and I certainly don’t want this kind of thing to become so average that I have to worry about signing disclaimers and agreeing to the sexual whims and idiosyncrasies of my employers in order to hold down a job that I have legitimate qualifications for.

    That’s why it sucks, Mr. Dov Charney. The successful set the example, the others follow. Maybe your intentions are good, but your imitators’ intentions probably will not be. You look like you’re having fun, but it’s extremely unprofessional behavior and many, if not most people prefer to keep those lines in sharp focus, not blurred.

  4. Hi Still_like_the_shirts.

    No one is forced to sign up for sexual harrasment at American Apparel! Job security, promotions, raises — that’s not based on indulging anyone’s sexual whims or romantic yearnings! People are simply asked to acknowledge that in some departments of the company salty language and sexy images are pretty common. That’s all. If you want to see the actual document, you can write me at [email protected].

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