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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.

Call us today at 916.486.1712 or visit

A few pointers if you are sexually harassed

Sexual harassment, and harassment in general, are rampant in workplaces across the U.S. Despite efforts to educate about the acts’ illegality and numerous cases tried and won by the EEOC, media reports reveal that sexual harassment is still a depressing reality. Consider recent high-profile lawsuits such as those against Zillow, GitHub and Yahoo’s Maria Zhang, or the incendiary lawsuit developing over the firing of Dov Charney, founder and CEO of American Apparel.

Are you being sexually harassed in the workplace? Being harassed by intimidation or bullying? No matter how the harassment is transpiring, it is illegal. Speak to an experienced employment attorney to find out what you need to do to deal with the situation. You have rights. Protect yourself.

It does not matter how old or young you are, anyone may be the unwilling victim of sexual harassment. Do not let the matter slide, even given how uncomfortable you are about it happening. Speak up and create a record of having spoken to those in a position to assist you at work. Tell the harasser his or her actions and behavior bother you, that you are not willing to put up with it and that it constitutes harassment.

Keep a detailed record of every incident that transpires, what you did and said, who you spoke to, what they said, how many times unsettling advances were made, whether the person backed down or escalated their behavior, what the human resources department said, if there was an investigation and so forth. Make sure your journal is detailed. You will want to show it to an attorney.

Are you working in a toxic environment where harassment is part of the work culture because management chooses to look the other way or not enforce any policies they may have on the books? Have you advocated for yourself, only to have your cries for help fall on deaf ears? Is the boss the harasser? Keep notes on this as well.

If you continue to bring the matter up and no one responds appropriately, or you are fired, it’s time to retain legal counsel. At any time during the process of journaling what is happening in the workplace, you may seek advice from a competent employment attorney. The first hour with the lawyer is usually free.

Call us today at 916.486.1712 or visit