American Apparel founder sued for sexually abusing an employee

Laura Donovan Contributor
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He may be known for his anti-sweatshop approach to running American Apparel, but CEO Dov Charney is being sued for $250 million for allegedly turning a teenage employee into his personal sex slave, reports ABC News.

Irene Morales, a 20-year-old former sales clerk, says Charney forced her to perform sex acts for eight months, sodomizing her soon after she reached the age of consent and using her as a sex “prisoner” for hours in his New York City residence.

The lawsuit, which was filed Tuesday in New York, alleges Charney ordered Morales to send him “sexually explicit photographs” of herself. Charney also told Morales, who was 17 years old and still in high school, that he wanted to sleep with her as soon as she turned 18.

“He forced her to get down on her knees just inside the front door and perform [a sex act] 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 [sex act],” says the lawsuit.

Morales claims the constant sexual harassment nearly gave her a nervous breakdown and she quit her job as a result.

In a statement, American Apparel did not deny Morales’ allegations, but questioned Morales’ motives and timing, and accused the young lady of trying to extort the business.

American Apparel’s lawyer says Morales, “left the company without complaint and resigned with a letter of gratitude regarding her positive experience at the company.”

American Apparel and Charney have been heavily criticized by women’s groups for years. In 2005, ABC reported that many of the clothing store ads included scantily-clad and even topless young girls posed in sexually suggestive positions.

As of 2005, at least four former employees filed lawsuits against Charney for sexual harassment. The suits have never been proven but allegations against him continue to persist. Charney has admitted to calling women at work “sluts” and “c*nts.”

American Apparel prides itself on being “sweatshop free,” treating its employees well, and having the “highest earning apparel workers in the world.” The store also produces socially liberal t-shirts that read, “Legalize Gay, Repeal Prop 8 Now!” and “I only look like an illegal immigrant.”

Laura Donovan