Michael Bumblis, the former manager of a Malibu American Apparel store, filed suit in Los Angeles Superior Court, claiming wrongful termination and assault.
According to Bumblis’s lawsuit, tension with Charney began in April when the CEO accused him of working for a rival retailer at a recent industry convention and called him a “wannabe Jew” and a “fag.” He also asked Bumblis if he was sleeping with a certain girl he had seen him with.
A few weeks after the incident, according to the suit, Charney showed up at the store Bumblis was managing for an inspection–but when Charney noticed that part of the second floor was being used as an office, things went haywire. According to Bumblis, Charney “dove” at him, grabbing his throat “in an attempt to choke and strangle him.” Later, he allegedly tried to rub Bumblis’s face in dirt.
Adding insult to injury, Bumblis said he was then fired for complaining about Charney’s erratic behavior.
This is at least the sixth lawsuit brought against Charney by an American Apparel employee–though it’s the first that doesn’t list sexual harassment in its charges. Since Charney barely escaped the last controversy unscathed, you’d think American Apparel might be worried. But, according to the Charney’s lawyer Peter Schey, he is confident the suit will be dismissed, “as it has been done with all similar cases filed against the company in the past.”
“Michael Bumblis was recently terminated by American Apparel for reasons consistent with company policy,” Schey said in a statement. “In addition to the conduct that led to his termination, Mr. Bumblis has also now violated his written agreement to arbitrate any disputes with the company.”
Unfortunately, given Charney’s history and reputation, this latest violent incident isn’t exactly surprising or hard to believe. But does that give credence to Bumblis suit–or to the defense’s theory that American Apparel employees are (consistently) using Charney’s vulnerable reputation against him to ‘shake down’ the company, a line of defense Charney’s lawyers have used in past cases?
Considering American Apparel’s successful (miraculous?) track record with lawsuits, we won’t be surprised if the case does get thrown out.
And don’t think that this means Charney is on his way out either. He’s been accused of harassment and generally creepy behavior several times over and is still at the helm of American Apparel–a company that’s come perilously close to bankruptcy numerous times. Back in March, Charney signed a contract to stay on as CEO for at least another three years, at a salary of $800,000 and with bonuses and incentives that could easily earn him $10 million.
American Apparel’s lawyer Peter Schey has sent us the following statement:
“We believe that his allegations are contrived and untrue, and in any event Mr. Bumblis knows full well that any complaints the company may have against him, or he may have against the company, must be addressed in binding arbitration, not in the media or the courts.”
Schey also stressed the fact that Bumblis was fired for reasons “consistent with company policy.” If Schey’s statement sounds deliberately vague–that’s because it is. The same written agreement that Bumblis signed (and is in violation of), also binds American Apparel to confidentiality.
“Due to written agreements with Mr. Bumblis to maintain the confidentiality of claims against or by him, we are bound not to publicly comment about the details of this case or reasons for his termination, and intend to honor that obligation.”
Due to this confidentiality agreement, Schey is very limited in what he can actually say about the case–a fact that Bumblis and his lawyers would know full well, and are perhaps deliberately using to manipulate the press.
No doubt this isn’t t he end of this, so stay tuned.