American Apparel Fires Employees for Not Being ‘Hot’

CEO and Founder Dov Charney finds himself at the middle of a controversy again

By Elena Gorgan on July 29th, 2009 11:23 GMT
Following the scandal that American Apparel got caught in a few weeks back, when the entire online community and the media – including regular customers – criticized a series of ads that looked more like hotline commercials than as part of a promo campaign for a clothing line, CEO Dov Charney’s name makes headlines again, The Telegraph says. According to an anonymous email from one of the employees at American Apparel, one of the criteria used for firing and hiring people is good looks.

While it’s an established and even proven fact that good looks never hurt in terms of getting an interview for a job, or even further down the process, in terms of promotion and a bigger check, firing people solely on the grounds that they are what you call “ugly” is nothing short of discrimination. However, Charney doesn’t seem to preoccupied with the nuances of the term, since he’ll let go anyone who does not fit his standards of beauty because he believes such a person is bad for business, one of his store managers says.

“One week, he [Charney] went on a huge tirade and made stores that weren’t doing well send in group photos. Why, you ask? He made store managers across the country take group photos of their employees so that he could personally judge people based on looks. He is tightening the AA ‘aesthetic,’ and anyone that he deems not good-looking enough to work there, is encouraged to be fired.” the employee in question says, under the umbrella of anonymity.

If there is any truth to his words, then Charney’s latest policy is despicable at best, since he sets up a set of rules that have nothing to do with his employees’ competence to perform the task at hand, are completely arbitrary and discriminatory, outraged media outlets, both in the US and abroad, are saying. Firing someone because they’re not “hot” should never be allowed – yet that doesn’t mean it’s not understandable in the case of American Apparel, the aforementioned publication believes.

For starters, anyone who wants a job with American Apparel has to submit, along with their resume, no less than three photos of themselves to “show your personal style and how you present yourself.” Just by casting a single glance around one such store, one can see that people who don’t fit the pattern are not welcome. Based on this premise, lamenting that the AA CEO has started firing personnel because he deems them “not hot” shouldn’t come as a surprise, The Telegraph says, because looks are what the AA empire is built on.

“If you’ve ever been shopping in an America Apparel store you know the deal. You’ll be served by young, nubile, lycra-clad hipsters replete with those trendy, geeky glasses, tie-dye vests and bulky gold chains. The fingerprints of Charney’s idiosyncratic style are everywhere.” The Telegraph writes, adding that only a certain type of man/woman can actually make the AA items look this hip and cool. 
Looking good is a prerequisite with American Apparel, store manager says in anonymous email
   Looking good is a prerequisite with American Apparel, store manager says in anonymous email
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