American Apparel CEO Dov Charney at a company factory in downtown Los Angeles. (Gary Friedman / Los Angeles…)
Dov Charney is no stranger to controversy, but a new lawsuit accuses the American Apparel chief executive of very strange behavior indeed, including choking and rubbing dirt into the face of a former Malibu store manager.
In the suit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, Michael Bumblis, the former manager, said he was wrongly fired for complaining about Charney through company channels.
Bumblis said the problems with the CEO started in April, when Charney accused him of working for a rival retailer at a recent industry convention, according to the lawsuit.
During that conversation, Charney allegedly called him "a wannabe Jew," a "fag" and asked if he was sleeping with a certain girl he had seen Bumblis with.
A few weeks later, according to the suit, Charney showed up for an inspection at the store Bumblis was managing, realized part of the second floor was being used as an office, and became "visibily agitated."
According to the suit, Charney then "dove" at Bumblis and started squeezing his throat "in an attempt to choke and strangle him." Later, he allegedly tried to rub dirt into Bumblis' face.
These allegations were roundly denied by Los Angeles-based American Apparel. Company lawyer Peter Schey called the lawsuit "contrived and untrue."
"Michael Bumblis was recently terminated by American Apparel for reasons consistent with company policy," Schey said in a statement. "In addition to the conduct that led to his termination, Mr. Bumblis has also now violated his written agreement to arbitrate any disputes with the company."
Schey said American Apparel plans to begin arbitration against Bumblis "with claims that we fully expect to win," and that the company is confident that the lawsuit will be dismissed "as it has been done with all similar cases filed against the company in the past."
Schey said he couldn't discuss the details of the case due to confidentiality agreements.
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