Why Dov Charney's Controversial Hiring Practices Won't Hurt American Apparel [Updated]

Last Updated Jun 15, 2010 1:00 PM EDT

American Apparel ass in a thongUPDATE: Apparently, the details of said hiring practices have generated such a virtual sh*tstorm that American Apparel gave out Dov Charney's digits so disgruntled potshots can go directly to the source. Dov's number (213) 923-7943 and his email is dov@americanapparel.net (via Stylite)

The good folks at Gawker just got their hot little hands on a juicy bit of information about fashion's favorite whipping boy Dov Charney, CEO of American Apparel (AAP). Ready for this? The company hires and fires now largely based on employee photos! Call him Teflon Charney though, because even the outrage surrounding this surfaced policy won't stick enough to make a difference.

First, because by now, we're quite used to Charney's shenanigans. For those not following those closely at home, here's a recap: Charney pushes porny ads starring nubile, nearly-naked girls (some also featuring his own body parts, he plays with himself in front of reporters, and he's been sued for sexually harassing former employees (charges not proven).

On the management side, my BNET colleague Carol Tice uncovered his scheme to make the company's leftover fabric into thong underwear and hair bows by marketing it as a green initiative to keep scraps out of landfills. And fellow BNETer Jim Edwards reported that the SEC was paying careful attention to leaked emails about the company dangling on the precipice of bankruptcy.

So, we get it, he's wild and uninhibited, and he helms the company in a style that's a cross between Playboy (PLE) founder Hugh Hefner (porn can't always save profits) and Abercrombie & Fitch's (ANF) CEO Mike Jeffries (for the sexy ads and the company's free-falling profits, not the chief's pay). Apparently outrage about bad practices and sexual exploitation only serves to light up the blogosphere, but not a fire under executive boards' butts.

Like Playboy and A&F, American Apparel continues to soldier on despite a first quarter debt total just north of $90 million. And it certainly won't die because of these latest allegations of discrimination on the basis of footwear (no Uggs or Converse), hair -- as in, African American sales staff should not straighten their hair -- or overall "appearance." This is not new. CBS did a special report on A&F's racially discriminating hiring practices back in 2004 and the preponderance of its sales staff is still white (and buff and beautiful).

Studies have long shown that lookers are rewarded (in cash and other compensation) for their pretty faces as much as their proficiency in any industry. And as long as we prefer to do business with the beautiful, guys like Dov Charney are going to stay afloat. Because it won't be hard to sell new investors on a company that simply writhes with hotties. Even though he's a Canadian, the Declaration's unalienable rights, "Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" have not been lost on Dov Charney. With every tight t-shirt, skimpy thong, and provocative ad, he's delivering on that promise. It's the American Way.

Photo via Flickr User John Morton CC 2.0

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