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LETTER: American Apparel responds to the Sheaf

By in Opinions

Dear Sheaf,

I am an attorney for Dov Charney and American Apparel. In a nutshell, the story by Tomas Borsa (American Apparel: Fat Chicks Need Not Apply) gets some things right, like the commitment of the company to fair labor standards, and other things entirely wrong, like its central theme asserting that the company has “a hiring practice where prospective employees are evaluated on their appearance,” or that it has adopted “a process where advancement in the company is determined by appearance.” This is not true. If Tomas had the right facts, the headline would have been American Apparel: Everyone is Welcome to Apply.

American Apparel does not discriminate against people based on good looks or body weight. The company logically wants its retail staff to do a good job representing the brand. Advancement in the company depends on how well a person does on the job, not their looks. The company is managing the hiring of employees in 22 countries. It occasionally reviews entry level candidates by way of video or photography along with other data. The purpose in doing so is not to in any discriminate against anyone. The company is committed to a diverse work force and hiring and promoting people without regard to their beauty or their race, gender, national origin, sexual preference, etc.

While the issues addressed in the article are important (even if the information offered about the issues is wrong), there are other important issues worth exploring, like how American Apparel is weathering the challenges its facing without taking the usual Wall Street approach of cutting wages, reducing benefits, firing workers, or moving off shore. Instead, the company is sticking to its principles and plans to weather all the current challenges in an ethical way that respects the interests of its workers and domestic production. Hope we can start a discussion.

Best wishes,
Peter Schey

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