American Apparel CEO Dov Charney: A Tarnished Hero?

But he has other problems, too. Charney currently fighting two sexual harassment lawsuits and has been hit with multiple sexual harassment suits from former employees -- women accusing him of a sexually hostile work environment.

One employee, Kimbra Lo, then 19, alleged in her suit that Charney "grabbed her and violently kissed her, then forced her to perform various sexual acts," among other, more graphic accusations.

Another woman, Irene Morales, 21, who worked as an American Apparel store manager, filed a $260 million lawsuit last year claiming Charney made her his sex slave when she was 17. The case was ordered into arbitration in March.

Charney denied ever sexually harassing an employee and said that all of the accusations against him are "baseless" and "meritless."

"What has happened is high-profile people, such as myself, are often in the fire line of that kind of stuff," he said.

He has never lost a sexual harassment lawsuit, and never paid any money in the cases against him.

"I don't really want to get into the details of any of these lawsuits," Charney said. "Only tell you that some of the lawsuits have involved people I've never met or not employees themselves."

But, Charney admitted, he has had relationships with his employees in the past.

"I mean my first employee, when I was 18 years old," he said. "Of course, I didn't pay her. She was my girlfriend. We used to drive T-shirts up and down the border."

"Love can happen, people break up. The thing is, we want people focused on their work," he added. "If it doesn't get in the way of work-- But really, it's not our business to be for the government or for a corporation running people's lives, even the lives of important people."

When asked, as head of the company, if he felt dating an employee was inappropriate, Charney said, "Well, 57 percent of Americans meet their spouse at work and it's perfectly normal and natural that love can take place within the context of the workplace."

It's a workplace that stands out in America, not just for its provocative ads and the sexual harassment allegations facing the boss, but for how Charney runs his business. Maybe it's a sign of the times that American manufacturing is coming back, in part, under the leadership of a man like Charney -- no button-down Carnegie or Vanderbilt, but imbued with the same audacious dreams.

"American Apparel will live beyond my lifetime," he said. "We'll be a heritage brand. It's like liberty, property, pursuit of happiness for every man worldwide. That's my America."

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