BROOKLYN (CN) – A former employee claims American Apparel CEO Dov Charney subjected her to “eight anguished months of forced sex,” held her prisoner in his apartment and made her perform sex acts for hours. She demands more than $25 million in damages.
In her complaint in Kings County Court, the woman, now 20, says Charney met her when she was a 17-year-old high school student working in sales at one of American Apparel’s retail stores.
While she was still 17, she says, Charney barraged her with phone calls, questions about her sexual history and demands that she send him “explicit photographs, e-mails and text messages,” or she would lose her job.
She claims Charney told her that “if she wanted to remain employed and be advanced by the company she would have to engage in sexual acts with him as soon as she turned 18 years old.”
The plaintiff, I.M., says she became increasingly “nervous and depressed” because of the pressure, and had to be hospitalized for several days. When she returned to work, she says, Charney didn’t miss a beat and demanded that she come to his apartment soon after her 18th birthday.
She claims Charney answered his door dressed only in underwear, dragged her into the apartment and “forced her to get down on her knees just inside the front door and perform fellatio upon him, then he dragged her into his bedroom, threw her on the bed, got on top of her and forced her to perform another act of fellatio, nearly suffocating her in the process. Plaintiff was shocked and horrified and made it clear that she did not wish to engage in such conduct with Defendant Charney. She was then, to all intents and purposes, held prisoner in the apartment for several hours and forced to perform additional sexual acts upon defendant Charney, including an attempted act of anal sex,” according to the complaint.
In the following months, she says, Charney’s abuses continued: he presented her with a “large ‘dildo’ sex toy” in front of other employees and lured her to his home in Los Angeles, where she was “subjected to extreme psychological abuse and torment.”
Fearing another mental breakdown, I.M. says she finally resigned.
American Apparel denied the allegation in a statement this week, saying that the upon resigning, the plaintiff “acknowledged in writing that she had no pending claims against the company and signed a severance agreement which included a full release of claims and an agreement to submit any future claims to confidential binding arbitration.”
I.M. demands punitive damages for sexual harassment, gender discrimination, hostile workplace, retaliation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, fraud, unpaid wages and other charges. She is represented by Eric Baum with Simon Eisenberg & Baum of Manhattan.