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Saturday, July 20, 2024 | Back issues
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Four More Women Sue Dov Charney

LOS ANGELES (CN) - Four more women have sued American Apparel and its CEO Dov Charney. One claims Charney sexually assaulted her and all say they were forced to sign unconscionable agreements at his business.

The lead plaintiff claims Charney sexually assaulted her when she went to his home for an interview. Three other women say they can't describe in detail what happened to them because they signed confidentiality agreements that Charney requires of all American Apparel employees.

This is the second sexual harassment complaint filed this month against Charney.

In the new complaint, the lead plaintiff says that after she quit working at the company, Charney sent her inappropriate sexual text messages and called her, saying "he was masturbating on the phone while they spoke," according to the complaint.

She says she ignored him and the messages stopped, but he called a few months later to offer her a job as a photographer and model.

"After his sexual advances were refused, Charney contacted [the plaintiff] on or after September 2010 regarding modeling for the company without making any sexual comments. In December, 2010, Charney offered [her] a job as a photographer and model for the company. [The plaintiff] had always wanted to pursue photography as a career and Charney was well aware of this fact. Charney informed her that she should meet him at his home, where Charney, as she knew by past experience, often purportedly conducted business meetings and company training with American Apparel employees," according to the complaint.

"On December 9, 2010, Charney texted an invitation to [the plaintiff] to visit his home to discuss the new position he may offer her. Charney stated that [she] should come over very quickly and warned that he could only spend ten minutes with her. [The plaintiff] went to Charney's home to discuss the photographer position. When she arrived at Charney's home, there were several cars in the driveway, so it appeared that several people were at his home, as was often the case. [She] entered, knowing the door was open. Having seen her arrive, Charney appeared at the stairs wearing only a towel. [She] stated that she should leave, but Charney grabbed [her] and violently kissed her.

"[The plaintiff] made it very clear to Charney that his behavior was unwanted and offensive and indicated that she intended to leave. He immediately apologized and assured her that they would just talk about business, repeatedly insisting that she must stay. Charney then took her by the arm and to a room, which turned out to be his bedroom."

The complaint continues: "Charney ordered [her] to sit on the bed and he sat down next to her. Charney suddenly grabbed her again and violently kissed her. [The plaintiff] pushed him away and warned Charney again that his actions were unwanted and offensive. He responded by asking, 'Do you know how long I have been waiting for this?' Charney's tone made it clear to [her] that Charney was not prepared to wait any longer regardless of her wishes and would become violent if she resisted in any way. He then forced her to perform various sexual acts. He became more aggressive and violent whenever [the plaintiff] made any effort to resist. He repeatedly shouted that no one was in the house but the two of them, clearly indicating no one could help her."

She says Charney "groped and fondled her," demanded she use a vibrator and tried to get her to have oral sex.

"[The plaintiff] left traumatized and terrorized and immediately contacted her mother who called Charney and demanded that he never contact her daughter again, whereupon Charney begged forgiveness and admitted he bad 'a problem,'" according to the complaint.

The lead plaintiff claims American Apparel management knows about Charney's pattern of illegal behavior and fails to protect employees.

"Not only had defendants continually condoned Charney's conduct by ignoring the ongoing complaints about him from past and/or current employees, but defendants then devised a scheme to silence victims of sexual harassment and potential whistle-blowers by requiring employees to sign alleged mandatory arbitration and confidentiality agreements as a term and condition of employment. This action on the company's part encouraged Charney to continue his misconduct. These alleged arbitration agreements are typed in font so small, that the text is difficult to read and the impact of these alleged agreements are not explained. Furthermore, these company policies violate public policy and bar employees and former employees from exercising their free speech rights, as well as their legal right to discuss their working conditions with anyone other than an attorney," according to the complaint.

The three other plaintiffs seek declaratory judgment that the arbitration and confidentiality agreements they signed are unconscionable and invalid so they can add their own claims against Charney.

The lead plaintiff seeks wants damages for sexual harassment, violation of the Fair Employment and Housing Act, emotional distress and assault and battery. She also says any agreement she signed while employed by American Apparel is not valid. All four women are represented by Toni Jaramilla, in Superior Court.

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