LOS ANGELES (CN) – American Apparel’s ousted CEO Dov Charney should be ordered to testify about his support for a union organizing textile workers at company warehouses, the National Labor Relations Board said Thursday.
The NLRB asked the federal court to order Charney to comply with a subpoena that American Apparel served on the 47-year-old Canadian-born businessman, requiring him to attend labor hearings. He has so far refused to testify.
American Apparel’s subpoena demands that Charney appear and produce messages and records it says will show his financial support for the General Brotherhood of Workers of American Apparel, which wants to collectively bargain for workers in Los Angeles.
According to the NLRB’s application to the court, the union has filed an election petition with it. As an independent agency of the U.S. government, the NLRB oversees elections for union representation.
In its election petition, the General Brotherhood says its 2,100 members have picketed American Apparel since March 2015 to protest working conditions. The union was formed to protect the rights of Spanish-speaking immigrant workers.
Arguing that the union is not recognized as a labor organization under the National Labor Relations Act, the clothing retailer also claims Charney’s support gives rise to a conflict of interest.
American Apparel subpoenaed Charney to testify about his communications with the president of the union, sometimes referred to in filings as “TeamDov.”
The subpoena asked Charney to produce financial records detailing any money he has paid or loaned to the union, in addition to other support in the form of clothing, hats, placards, stickers, buttons, or the filing of business licenses.
After failing to show up to a November meeting, Charney tried to have the subpoena revoked. A hearing officer denied the petition but Charney did not show up at a Jan. 12 hearing either.
In his petition, Charney’s attorney Jennifer Yeung said her client was unavailable and that the hearing was “unilaterally set without regard to the availability of Charney or his counsel.”
Yeung called the request for records “overbroad and unduly burdensome … vague and ambiguous,” said that the records are protected by the attorney-client privilege and did not “relate to any matter under investigation or in question in the proceedings.”
“This request is also not reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence, and constitutes an unreasonable invasion of privacy,” Yeung wrote.
In answer, American Apparel said Charney’s petition consisted of “nothing but boilerplate objections.”
“The contention that the requested documents do not relate to any question in the proceedings is not only wrong, but frivolous,” American apparel’s attorney Al Latham wrote in answer to the board.
In its Feb. 4 filing, the National Labor Relations Board agreed, calling out Charney’s “contumacious conduct” and asking the court to order him to appear.
Charney was the subject of highly publicized claims that he misused corporate assets, abused his position and sexually harassed employees. American Apparel ousted him as chairman and CEO of in 2014.
American Apparel declined to comment. Charney’s law firm Keith A. Fink & Associates did not respond to an emailed request for comment.
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