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Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Dov Charney’s Subpoena Fight Called ‘Nonsensical’

LOS ANGELES (CN) - A federal judge said former American Apparel chief executive Dov Charney should appear at an unfair labor practices hearing, calling his fight against the clothing retailer's subpoena "nonsensical" and "meritless."

Last month, the National Labor Relations Board asked a judge to order the Canadian-born businessman to appear at a labor board hearing in Los Angeles. The agency sought the ruling after Charney defied a hearing officer who asked him to appear at a Jan. 12 meeting, pursuant to an American Apparel subpoena.

The General Brotherhood of Workers of American Apparel wants to unionize at the retailer's LA warehouses and has filed a petition with the labor relations board which oversees elections for union representation.

American Apparel has asked the board to deny the petition. The retailer says in court papers that the organization was created by Charney's friends, roommates, and former American Apparel executives.

The retailer subpoenaed Charney to testify about his communications with five individuals connected to the union, also referred to in filings as Hermandad Mexicana, "TeamDov" and "Workers United to Save American Apparel."

American Apparel says Charney should produce financial records about money he has paid or loaned to the union, or any business licenses he has helped to provide.

In a report and recommendation issued on March 24, U.S. Magistrate Judge Kenly Kiya Kato said the federal court should grant the labor relations board's application and order Charney to appear and produce the information.

During a brief phone interview, Charney declined to comment and referred Courthouse News to his lawyer Keith Fink.

"Good luck to you," he said.

Finding that the board has the authority to investigate and that the information sought by American Apparel is relevant, Kato said the subpoena was not overbroad or unduly burdensome as Charney's lawyers had argued.

The judge dubbed as "nonsensical" Charney's argument that the National Labor Relations Board did not need the information to make a determination, noting that a board official had said it would help her make a decision.

Charney says the subpoena invades his privacy. But Kato wrote that Charney's claim was "meritless" and that he "points to no compelling private information that would be disclosed" under state law.

"Nor does Charney point to any applicable federal privacy laws," Kato added.

The businessman also claims American Apparel is going on a "fishing expedition" for a legal advantage in five other lawsuits. He asked for a protective order to limit the amount of information he would have to hand over if the board's request is granted.

But Kato said the court should reject Charney's argument.

"The court finds a protective order limiting disclosure to the NLRB is not appropriate, because it would prevent American Apparel from litigating the action. Moreover, Charney cites to no authority for his position that the NLRB and American Apparel should not have access to relevant information necessary to determine the case at hand," Kato wrote in the 9-page report.

Charney had attempted to reverse his December 2014 firing as American Apparel CEO but a U.S. bankruptcy court's approval of the company's exit plan in February ended his hopes of a return.

The retailer ousted Charney after allegations of personal and financial misconduct.

Neither Fink nor the National Labor Relations Board immediately responded to requests for comment by email and phone.

American Apparel spokeswoman Arielle Patrick declined to comment, writing in an email that "American Apparel does not comment on ongoing litigation."

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