In a piece entitled, “Twenty Days of Harassment and Racism as an American Apparel Employee,” an author who only identifies herself as “Jane Doe” divulged about her experience working for the ethically clean company. Though the company embraces fair wages for its garment workers and abhors sweatshops, positive company culture has yet to permeate the retail sphere.
Upon interviewing for the position, the store manager emphasized how important the brand’s “images” was and asked a question about Jane Doe’s modeling career. It seemed innocent enough. But when Jane began working for the company, her manager was quick to promote racial profiling, instructing Jane to “look out for the black girls, because they’re always the ones shoplifting.”
Throughout her time at American apparel, Jane was harassed by her manager and customers alike. Her manager would comment on how stupid the sexual harassment case was against the company’s CEO. Jane would hear the manager say, “it’s not like he raped them” and “it seems like they were into it, too.”
There was only one African American employee at that store, and she worked exclusively in the back stock room. Jane’s co-worker confirmed that the manager “never hires black girls” because they wanted to attract “the right kind of customer.”
On several occasions, Jane and her co-workers were sexually harassed by a man who asked female employees to try on see-through or mesh clothing for him so he could determine if the clothes would look good on his wife. The manager essentially dismissed the employees’ concerns, saying it was alright for the customer to do that so long as they work something underneath. The female workers felt obligated to oblige and thought it was an unspoken part of their jobs. Finally, another employee called the police when the same man kept returning. All the manager had to say was, “Well it seems like he’s gone now.”
After 20 days, Jane quit the company citing the hyper-sexualized the workplace and extreme unprofessionalism. Jane’s complaints aren’t the only criticisms of the company’s sexualized nature. Currently, many American Apparel advertisements in Great Britain have been banned for depicting overly sexualized, young school girls in their back to a school ad campaign.
If these stories sound familiar, please do not hesitate to contact an attorney who may be able to help. Read Jane’s entire story on Gawker.com