American Apparel Probe Bares Dov Charney Misconduct

Fired CEO Misused Funds and Lashed at Harass Accuser

By Reuters

Published June 21, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share

An internal investigation at American Apparel Inc has found that its CEO Dov Charney violated company policies, ranging from misusing company funds to failing to stop the discrediting of at least one former employee who had accused him of sexual harassment, a person close to the matter said.

The company’s board ousted the 45-year-old Charney as chairman on Wednesday, citing unspecified allegations of misconduct. It suspended him as president and chief executive officer, and plans to fire him for cause, following a 30-day period stipulated in his contract.

The company’s independent directors hired law firm Jones Day in mid-March to lead the investigation, said the person and a separate source familiar with the matter. It is unclear what events prompted the board to initiate the investigation, which is ongoing.

The probe revealed that Charney, who founded the hipster clothing brand, was using company funds to book flights for his parents, the person said. He also sometimes provided corporate apartments to friends and stayed in them himself when he wasn’t on company business, according to this person.

The investigation’s findings also included that Charney had known about but failed to stop a blog created by an American Apparel employee that displayed naked photographs of former saleswoman, Irene Morales, who had sued him, the person said.

A person familiar with Charney’s thinking said that any use of photographs of the former employee by American Apparel was only done to counter her damaging allegations and the strategy was approved by other company officials.

This person said that Charney believed any use of apartments was not material and was normal business practice. In terms of the travel charges, this person said Charney’s father is on American Apparel’s payroll and that his mother, although not an employee, is a retail and design contributor to the company.

Charney’s employment contract entitled him to “vacation benefits and reimbursement of reasonable and necessary business expenses,” according to a company filing in April. His father, Morris Charney, received $238,000 in architectural consulting and director fees from the company in 2013, the filing showed.

A spokesman for American Apparel declined to comment. A representative for Jones Day was not immediately available for comment.

The company, which only has a market value of $120 million, has been struggling with weak sales and heavy debt. While the industry lauded Charney for his creativity, the company has been under fire for lax financial controls and concerns about the strength of its management team.

In recent years, Charney has fought off a series of sexual harassment lawsuits. In one of the most high-profile cases, Morales claimed she was held as a teenage sex slave, forced to perform sexual acts during an eight-month period, including oral sex in Charney’s Manhattan apartment just after she turned 18.

A lawyer for American Apparel said in 2011 that it was Morales who had stalked Charney and was trying to “shake down” the company.

In 2012, a New York judge ordered her $250 million claim to be arbitrated. The status of the arbitration proceedings could not be immediately determined.

American Apparel is in talks to hire an investment bank, expected to be boutique Peter J. Solomon, one of the people close to the matter said. The bank, which could not be immediately reached for comment, will provide capital if the company’s lenders declare it in default on some of its debt, the person said.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Happy birthday to the Boy Who Lived! July 31 marks the day that Harry Potter — and his creator, J.K. Rowling — first entered the world. Harry is a loyal Gryffindorian, a matchless wizard, a native Parseltongue speaker, and…a Jew?
  • "Orwell would side with Israel for building a flourishing democracy, rather than Hamas, which imposed a floundering dictatorship. He would applaud the IDF, which warns civilians before bombing them in a justified war, not Hamas terrorists who cower behind their own civilians, target neighboring civilians, and planned to swarm civilian settlements on the Jewish New Year." Read Gil Troy's response to Daniel May's opinion piece:
  • "My dear Penelope, when you accuse Israel of committing 'genocide,' do you actually know what you are talking about?"
  • What's for #Shabbat dinner? Try Molly Yeh's coconut quinoa with dates and nuts. Recipe here:
  • Can animals suffer from PTSD?
  • Is anti-Zionism the new anti-Semitism?
  • "I thought I was the only Jew on a Harley Davidson, but I was wrong." — Gil Paul, member of the Hillel's Angels. http://jd.fo/g4cjH
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • "My husband has been offered a terrific new job in a decent-sized Midwestern city. This is mostly great, except for the fact that we will have to leave our beloved NYC, where one can feel Jewish without trying very hard. He is half-Jewish and was raised with a fair amount of Judaism and respect for our tradition though ultimately he doesn’t feel Jewish in that Larry David sort of way like I do. So, he thinks I am nuts for hesitating to move to this new essentially Jew-less city. Oh, did I mention I am pregnant? Seesaw, this concern of mine is real, right? There is something to being surrounded by Jews, no? What should we do?"
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • What Thomas Aquinas might say about #Hamas' tunnels:
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.