What do Woody Allen and four former American Apparel employees have in common? Give up? They have all accused Dov Charney of harassment.
In the case of the employees, it was sexual harassment charges against the clothing company’s founder and CEO. In the case of director, actor and writer Allen, it is what he calls the “scorched earth” approach AA is taking to defend itself in a lawsuit he filed.
Back in 2007, American Apparel put up some billboards that featured Allen in a scene from the 1977 film Annie Hall where he was dressed as a Hasidic Jew. Allen, who doesn’t do advertising in the US and thinks the company’s ads are “sleazy,” “infantile,” and “low-end,” sued them for $10 million. The billboards came down and AA decided to prove that Allen wasn’t worth the amount he was suing them for as a product endorser.
The ad that launched the lawsuit
To do this, they have demanded that he turn over any records relating to the sex scandal involving his ex-wife Mia Farrow and his relationship with her adopted daughter and Allen’s current wife Soon-Yi Previn. In particular, they want to know about any endorsement offers that were pulled from the table after the scandal broke.
While this type of harassment pales in comparison to someone who is fired after refusing their boss’s sexual advances as Charney’s former employees claim happened, it is still a good indication of the real ethics of a company that prides itself on its business ethics.
They promote themselves as a socially responsible company. This is based solely on the fact that they don’t use sweatshop labor, which is good, but should be a given rather than a selling point. Meanwhile, many view their advertising campaign as sexist and exploitative, they have been accused of union-busting and the aforementioned sexual harassment and in 2006 they infiltrated an activist theatre group which was staging a Buy Nothing Day culture-jam to mock the company’s marketing style and bring up some of their less-than-reputable business practices.
While that incident shows the lengths American Apparel will go to protect its reputation, the latest one shows the depths to which they will stoop to protect the bottom line, regardless of what you may think about Woody Allen and the scandal AA is trying to bring back to light.