Dov Charney is a practical lesson in how not to handle employee relations.
The American Apparel CEO has been battling sexual harassment accusations for at least seven years. Despite the company's alleged descent into bankruptcy, this isn't expected to end any time soon.
Last week, a New York judge considered whether to dismiss a suit against Charney seeking $250 million. On the other side of the country, the same attorney filed another sexual harassment suit on behalf of four other former employees.
The New York lawsuit alleges that Dov Charney forced a teenage girl to perform sexual acts under threat of losing her job, reports Reuters. These alleged encounters occurred in Charney's apartment and lasted eight months.
The Los Angeles lawsuit alleges, amongst other things, that Charney sexually assaulted a former employee during a hiring interview for a modeling gig at his home, reports the Los Angeles Times. He also sent her sexual text messages.
A common thread in these lawsuits is that Dov Charney took these women to his home. As a small business owner, this should be raising a red flag. It's never appropriate to invite an employee, or potential employee, to your home if other people are not present.
It's also a good idea to try and conduct interviews and meetings in a neutral, semi-public location. Doing so will lessen the perception that sexual harassment is taking place, and will provide evidence that nothing did take place.
So, no matter how you feel about Dov Charney, keep in mind what he has allegedly done, and do the complete opposite.
- American Apparel 'sex slave' claims she thought it was standard behavior in fashion (Daily Mail)
- Employers: Sexual Harassment (FindLaw)
- Preventing Sexual Harassment (FindLaw)
- Employee Accuses American Apparel CEO Dov Charney of Sexual Harassment (FindLaw's Houston Employment Law Blog)