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An extreme example of sexual harassment in the workplace

Harassment comes in many forms, but one recent case that has many people talking and shaking their heads is the naked dance routine performed by American Apparel founder Dov Charney in front of one of his employees. He is now facing multiple sexual harassment lawsuits, and the board of the company have not only fired him as CEO, but ousted him out of the organization entirely.

His nude dance routine is forever enshrined in a video clip on the Internet. Charney has insisted his relationships with workers were based on consensual sex. While he offers no apologies for his behavior, he admits to walking around in his underwear, calling his female employees “sluts” and other equally offensive “endearments.” His actions created a hostile, sexually charged work environment where the boss was the main harasser.

Whether the sexual relations Charney had were consensual is not the issue in this or any other cases like it. Rather, the issue is someone in authority having intimate relations with an employee whom they may fire for non-cooperation. This is an abuse of authority of the worst kind.

Charney founded the company in 1998 and grew it to over 245 company-owned retail outlets in 20 different countries, boasting roughly 10,000 workers. The brand’s claim to fame is an insistence on quality American-made clothing and off-the-wall risqué advertising. Despite the company’s rise to fame and apparently enduring power in the marketplace, a special committee of the board declined to reinstate Charney in any position with American Apparel.

While this is arguably an extreme case of sexual harassment, it shows that even one of the largest companies in America, despite the fact they knew or should have known sexual harassment is illegal, fell far short of its mandatory obligations to protect workers.

If you are in a situation such as this one at your workplace, reach out and connect with a knowledgeable employment attorney. Find out what sexual harassment is, how to fight back against it, and possibly launch a lawsuit to recover damages.

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