Former American Apparel employee accuses CEO Dov Charney of sexual assault in lawsuit
Dov Charney, American Apparel Inc.'s embattled chief executive, has been sued by a former employee who says he sexually assaulted her "during what she believed to be a hiring interview" at his home.
The complaint says Charney began sending Lo "sexual text messages" in July 2010, and that he called her and said "he was masturbating on the phone while they spoke."
According to the suit, Lo ignored his calls and messages until Charney offered her a modeling and photography job in December, inviting her to meet him in his home to discuss the position.
After she arrived, Charney, wearing only a towel, "violently kissed her" and forced her to perform sexual acts, the suit alleges.
Afterward, Lo's mother called Charney and told the company founder and majority owner to stay away from her daughter, "whereupon Charney begged forgiveness and admitted he had a problem," according to the suit, which was first reported by the New York Times.
Three other women filed the suit along with Lo, saying in the court document that American Apparel improperly forced them to sign confidential arbitration agreements with the company before they would be hired, and that the company had initiated arbitration proceedings with them, but details as to what dispute the arbitration matters were dealing with weren't made public.
Earlier this month, former American Apparel employee Irene Morales sued Charney in New York state court, saying he had attempted to force her to perform oral sex on him in his New York apartment in 2008, when she was 18, and sexually harassed her for months, including demanding that she send him explicit photographs, e-mails and text messages.
American Apparel has said in court papers that Morales sued "after making a number of extortion-like threats to expose the company to a threatened avalanche of litigation and negative publicity." The company has asked the court to send her case to confidential arbitration.
In recent years, Charney has been named a defendant in several sexual harassment suits, but none has gone to trial. American Apparel's board of directors has publicly stood behind him. The company has said in court papers that Charney seeks to foster a "sexually charged workplace" in an effort to stimulate creativity.
-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles
Photo: Dov Charney, chairman and chief executive officer of American Apparel, in a company retail store in New York on Thursday, July 29, 2010. Credit: Keith Bedford/Bloomberg