So I know that many of you (stateside) at least get bombarded with the porn like ads featuring only "American Apparel employees." (They must not hire anyone bigger then a size 5.) To those of you who may not have to see these ads displayed everywhere I have provided one for you. I could probably post only on this ad, or others like it. Lord knows I rant about it enough in real life. (And what EXACTLY is she supposed to be doing with her socks? Why do we still have ads like these! I want all ads gone NOW!!)
No, the reason I am making this post is because of this:
It's in the company's racy ads -- which run mostly in alternative newspapers such as New York's The Village Voice and LA Weekly -- that the line between work and recreational sex at American Apparel begins to blur. Charney takes many of the photos himself, often using company employees as models as well as people he finds on the street. "Meet Melissa," reads one print ad, which pictures a comely brunette in a shower and a see-through shirt. "She won an unofficial wet T-shirt contest held at the American Apparel apartment in Montreal." (The company maintains a string of apartments in the U.S. and Canada to save money on hotel rooms.)
In his marketing, Charney has been adept at weaving his libertarian sexual attitude with his progressive labor practices. But it's another matter to make that attitude a bedrock principle of the workplace. In their sexual harassment suits, two of the women accuse Charney of exposing himself to them. One claims he invited her to masturbate with him and that he ran business meetings at his Los Angeles home wearing close to nothing. Another says he asked her to hire young women with whom he could have sex, Asians preferred. All describe him using foul language in their presence, much of it demeaning to women. Says Keith A. Fink, an attorney for one of the women suing: "The work environment there makes Animal House look like choir practice."
Charney says all three women did substandard work and gave no indication before they left that they had felt harassed. Charney says he never engaged in any of the acts of which he is accused. As for his language, he says that's par for the course in the fashion biz. "When I'm working with creative people I use the language of the street," he says. "It can get pretty salty."
The suits follow a bizarre article last year in the women's magazine Jane. Charney was described as engaging in oral sex with a female employee and masturbating in front of the reporter. Charney doesn't deny taking part in any of the activities described in the article. He says he befriended the writer over the course of the two months it took her to research the piece. "I've never done anything sexual that wasn't consensual," Charney says. The reporter, Claudine Ko, confirmed his take on events to BusinessWeek. *see below
Employment attorneys say Charney's language alone could get him into trouble. "You can't force women to be subject to certain conduct on the theory that this is a coarse working environment," says Washington, D.C. employment attorney Bruce A. Fredrickson. As for Charney's admitted "love affairs" with employees, San Francisco attorney Phil Horowitz, chair of the California Employment Lawyers Assn., says: "Any chief executive who's thinking of having sex with subordinates ought to have his head examined."
Since the U.S. Supreme Court concluded in 1986 that a hostile work environment was a violation of an employee's civil rights, sexual harassment cases have become a fact of life in American business. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature can constitute harassment if it's severe or pervasive. It's not illegal for a boss to pursue relationships with underlings, so long as the relationships are welcome. If there's a pattern of promotions or other opportunities granted to employees who engaged in sex with a manager, the employer may be liable for sex discrimination claims from other workers. (emphasis mine)
* and I quote "It doesn't help Charney's case that his stores are papered with Penthouse and Oui magazine snapshots and that he happily admits to having sex with his employees. Nor does it help that he brags about his penchant for masturbating in front of women. So much so, that he masturbated in front of reporter Claudine Ko while she interviewed him for Jane magazine. Ko reports in Jane:
"'Can I?' he says adjusting himself in his chair. And 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.' Soon enough he loosens his Pierre Cardin belt. 'Are you going to do it again?' I ask."
I hated his company purely because of his sexist ads, but Penthouse snapshots in the stores? And behaviour like this? I don't find that violating at all. Sure you can whip it out around me, but I wouldn't plan on doing that if you want to keep it attached to your body. Actually in his case, I might encourage him to do so. (Wait, can I say that....is blogger gonna tell on me?)
Anyway, I'm constantly fighting with people over supporting/not supporting American Apparel. I think that this is concrete proof that we should not. Sure they don't use sweatshops, but they're also anti-union. (BOOOOOOOOO!!!!!) And I mean any one can see how horrible their ads are. But people are buying American Apparel because it's made "conciously" and in Downtown LA (because the downtown parts of large US cities have never been home to sweatshops. nooooooooooooooo.) I boycotted them solely because of the ads, but now I feel that more people have to start boycotting, those people who can shrug off the ads, how can they shrug off this behaviour? That's the worst work environment I have ever heard of (especially for a "socially concious" company), and if I worked there I hope that I would never have to see that asshole.Blargh.