Entries in American Apparel (3)


American Apparel Worker Says CEO Rubbed Dirt on Face

MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A former American Apparel store manager is suing CEO Dov Charney, saying he was verbally and physically abusive to the point of rubbing dirt in his face and now the company is trying to muzzle him.

Michael Bumblis, 24, of Inglewood, Calif., said he was hired in March 2009 and rose up the ranks, eventually becoming store manager over an American Apparel retail store in Malibu before being fired on July 24 "and not given a reason."

"No employee deserves to be treated in this manner," said Bumblis' attorney, Illan Heimanson.  "Mr. Charney has abused his position and power, and in doing so, he has flaunted employment laws established to protect employees like Mr. Bumblis."

He is alleging assault, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, violation of civil rights, discrimination and harassment based on sexual orientation and religious affiliation and wrongful termination.

Bumblis claims he became "increasingly agitated and anxious at work, was unable to fully concentrate and was increasingly absent from work due to his anxiety and distress."

Peter Schey, attorney for Charney and American Apparel, said Bumblis "was recently terminated by American Apparel for reasons fully consistent with company policy.  To protect the rights of former employees, we do not comment publicly on the reasons for terminations."

Schey said the allegations in the lawsuit are "false."

According to the lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on Nov. 29, Bumblis said Charney would "periodically" visit the store, "usually on an hour's notice," and he would "occasionally" see Charney at managers' meetings at the company's headquarters in downtown Los Angeles.

One of the first encounters in which Bumblis said he felt "threatened" by Charney began at a Las Vegas convention in February.  Bumblis said Charney greeted him when he was standing with an unnamed woman.

Later in April, Bumblis said Charney called him and "launched into an expletive ridden diatribe," asking if he was "banging that girl you were with in Vegas" and berated him for having "negative same store sales."

Bumblis claims Charney said, "You should have been f****** fired months ago," and called him slurs related to being Jewish and gay, though Bumblis says he is neither.

On one occasion when Charney came to inspect construction work on the store Bumblis managed, the CEO went to a second-story make-shift stock room that was not completed.  After an alleged argument about the store's new inventory system, Bumblis said Charney "dove" at him, "grabbed" his throat with both hands "and began to forcibly squeeze [Bumblis'] throat in an attempt to choke or strangle" him, according to the suit.

Later during that visit, the suit states, Charney noticed dirt in a narrow space between a fitting room wall and the store wall and called to Bumblis saying, "Come here!  Look how disgusting you are."

"Rub it on your face," Charney allegedly said, then "proceeded to scoop up the dirt and forcibly attempt to rub the dirt on plaintiff's face," the suit states.

"The allegations in this lawsuit are false and Mr. Bumblis and his lawyers know that any complaints the company may have against Mr. Bumblis, or complaints he may have against the company, are to be addressed in binding arbitration, not in the media or the courts," Schey said in a statement.  "In addition to the conduct that led to his termination, Mr. Bumblis has also violated his written agreement to arbitrate any disputes with the company.  We will shortly initiate arbitration against Mr. Bumblis and have no doubt that the court will require that he join the arbitration proceedings where we expect the company's claims against him will be upheld."

Bumblis acknowledges in his suit that he signed as a condition of employment a "Mandatory Arbitration and Mediation Agreement" and an "At Will Employment Confidentiality Agreement."  The suit states that the latter contains a provision of liquidated damages of $1 million "chargeable against any employee that reveals virtually any detail of their employment."

The suit states that these agreements "bar employees from voicing grievances, filing complaints and exercising their rights to protected speech."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


New American Apparel Ad Stars a Senior

MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)(NEW YORK) -- Call it the Betty White effect. Her Facebook campaign and resulting SNL hosting gig, Super Bowl  commercial spot and senior citizen prank show have let America know “women of a certain age” are no longer willing to be out to pasture.

She even tweets.

But it’s not just Betty. Senior citizens are now officially cool. How do we know? Los Angeles-based clothing company American Apparel is featuring a grey-haired woman named Jacky, exact age unknown, as the model in a brand-new ad.

American Apparel? Isn’t that the company whose CEO was accused of sexualizing young female models and making them look even younger?

Indeed it is. But it seems the clothing company known for racy ads featuring young, nearly nude models has had a change of heart, at least for this latest campaign. The line of clothing Jacky’s modeling is appropriately called Advanced Basics.

The company wrote on their Tumblr page:

“There was something so compelling about Jacky’s look and energy when we first spotted her in a New York restaurant this winter, we introduced ourselves and pulled up a chair. During a long discussion that touched on everything from career choices and nutrition to insights on relationships, age and beauty, we asked if she would consider being photographed by us. We were thrilled when she agreed. Here are some photos we’ve taken of Jacky over the last few months showing how she likes to wear American Apparel. We hope you enjoy them.”

American Apparel has posted several photos from Jacky’s shoot on their Facebook page. Judging from the comments, the campaign is a big hit with the public; the vast majority were positive.

Blog Fashionista reports that Jacky recently moved to New York City and bought her first apartment. The ads mark her modeling debut.

The ad is not without its controversy: There’s one photo of Jacky that could certainly be considered suggestive. It’s American Apparel, after all.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


American Apparel Snubs Plus-Size Model Contest Top Vote-Getter

MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- When Nancy Upton entered American Apparel’s “Next BIG Thing” search for a plus-size model, her goal was to mockingly protest the company.  Much to her surprise, she ended up winning the popular vote online with her racy food photos. But the company snubbed her and sent her a long letter explaining why.

Upton called on photographer friend Shannon Skloss and did a photo shoot with a high-fashion feel, but a clearly ironic message. The images showed a scantily-clad size-12 Upton posing seductively with a variety of messy foods.

“I thought to myself, ‘What are they sitting around in L.A. thinking? What would they see when they look at a fat girl trying to be sexy?’” Upton told ABC News. “Well, she would be eating.”

In one image, she is soaking in a bathtub filled with ranch dressing. In another, she is eating chicken off the bones in a swimming pool.

“I feel like there are two levels [to the photos]. On the surface … the satirical message is I was trying to be sexy, but just couldn’t stop eating,” Upton exclaimed mockingly. “I want to so badly be accepted, but food!”

“But the real message is, I can be fat and I can be beautiful. The two are not mutually exclusive,” Upton said.

While voters loved her statement photos, American Apparel was less than amused.

“It’s a shame that your project attempts to discredit the positive intentions of our challenge based on your personal distaste for our use of light-hearted language, and that ‘bootylicous’ was too much for you to handle,” American Apparel’s creative director Iris Alonzo wrote to Upton in a letter she posted on her blog, Extra Wiggle Room.

When she first read about the competition, Upton, 24, was offended by the campaign’s tone and choice of words. “If you think you’ve got what it takes to be the next XLent model, send us photos of you and your junk to back it up,” said the competition’s description. The winner would receive a trip to L.A. and a modeling gig for the company.

“I just felt talked down to, like I was being condescended to,” Upton said. “Their pants could be ‘sexy,’ but bigger girls had to be ‘curvalicous’ or ‘booty-ful.’” American Apparel is well-known for its racy -- and often controversial -- ads featuring super-skinny models in compromising positions.

At the end of the letter, Alonzo wrote: “Oh -- and regarding winning the contest, while you were clearly the popular choice, we have decided to award the prizes to other contestants that we feel truly exemplify the idea of beauty inside and out, and whom we will be proud to have representing our company.”

Though Upton has no problem with the fact that she will not be representing American Apparel anytime soon, she is happy to have ignited a national conversation.

“I feel like I accomplished what I set out to do on a greater scale than I realized I was doing,” Upton said. “I’ve provoked discussion and promoted awareness about the depiction of plus-size women in the media.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio