|Don Charney and his camisa blanco|
Last year, after more than a decade of countless sexual harassment allegations and other accusations dealing with fraud, founder and chief executive of American Apparel Don Charney was fired. There’s no doubt this guy is nuts. He’s been secretly videotaped yelling at work and dancing around naked in front of a coworker, and even admitted he's crazy during a “20/20” interview. But what’s shocking is that many of his employees filed complaint after complaint referring to being treated as “sex slaves” during Charney’s position as CEO. Irene Morales, an alleged victim of Charney’s sexual harassment, explained, “I was victimized by Dov Charney, and I won't stand for this anymore. If there are possibly other women out there, they should absolutely speak up about this, because it's wrong in every way and shape and form”. Due to statements made by employees like Morales, it’s no surprise that the board of American Apparel decided to fire Charney, but why’d it take so long?
Charney was able to make American Apparel into a multi-million dollar company, generating over $200 million in revenue by 2005 and being worth $15 per share after launching the company in 1991. However, the company took a financial downturn in recent years, and in 2013 the company lost $106 million and stock shares were as low as 47 cents. Ten years after allegations and shortly after financial troubles, the board fired Charney.
As one anonymous American Apparel insider put it, Charney’s dismissal was “purely financial ... Everything else is bullshit. The board has nothing new.” By saying, “The board has nothing new,” this person is referring to how the sexual allegations are nothing new to the company, however, the board turned its head on accusations made by employees over the years and now is using these accusations as an excuse to fire Charney. Ultimately, the employees embody a company and the board’s priority should be to ensure the employees’ comfort at work. However, the board of American Apparel chose to value money over ethics in this case.
Now, why do I find this story relevant even though Charney was fired over a year ago?
Recently in class, we’ve seen how historical events became “Paginás en Blancos” because the United States government chose money to be more valuable than what’s moral. Although the priority of the government is supposed to be the people that embody the nation, many choices the U.S government has made in the past have harmfully affected the American people because of financial objectives. Similar to the Paginás en Blanco of the United States, it seems that businesses like American Aparrel have their own Paginás en Blanco too. The allegations against Charney were never talked about and left in the dark until they appeared out of nowhere when the company needed a reason to fire him because of its lack of economic success.