American Apparel has issued a new code of conduct for their employees just weeks after firing CEO Dov Charney over sexual harassment claims.
The 12-page document includes a section entitled, “Personal or Romantic Relationships Between Personnel”, which outlines the US-based company’s stance on office romances and “sexual advances” made by bosses to employees.
According to the new code:
No management-level employee may make sexual advances, welcome or unwelcome, toward any subordinate, regardless of whether the subordinate reports to the management employee, either directly or indirectly.
Disgraced Dov Charney was finally ousted from the company he founded and ran for 25 years in December after a string of sexual harassment claims and lawsuits were made against him by models and American Apparel employees.
Accusations ranged from consistently propositioning employees to holding one woman “prisoner in his apartment for several hours” where she claimed she was “forced to perform…sex acts” on Charney.
The 45-year-old has maintained his innocence throughout, claiming during a deposition for one of the many lawsuits that he believed all acts had occurred consensually.
In what seems like a direct response to his line of defence, the American Apparel code of conduct now specifically states that any sexual advances made by management-level employees are strictly prohibited – even if they are “welcome”.
The code also points out that even outside of the workplace, unwelcome advances made on fellow employees “is not professional behaviour and may violate Company policy”.
If employees are in a romantic relationship, they must disclose it to HR or face discipline and do not even think about PDAs in the workplace.
This 6,000 document is a clear attempt by the clothing company and new CEO Paula Schneider to distance themselves from Charney’s morally ambiguous environment and clean up their sullied image.
But with the company expected to report financial losses for a fifth consecutive year, it may take more than a new code of conduct to turn around the fortunes of American Apparel.
[Dov Charney, Terry Richardson and The Illusion of Consent]
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