American Apparel Employees File Complaints Against Company For Alleged Intimidation, Silencing Tactics

It has not been an easy road for American Apparel after firing founder and former CEO Dov Charney last year: Charney announced in December that he’s trying to plan a comeback, and now two complaints filed by workers allege that the company is intimidating its workers and trying to keep them from talking to the media about the company’s troubles.

Employees have filed two complaints against the company with the National Labor Relations Board in the last two days, reports BuzzFeed News.

The first complaint was filed on Wednesday, and claims that American Apparel sent security to intimidate workers who’d gathered for an off-site meeting to discuss recent cuts in hours. In that complaint, an employee says she was “accosted and interrogated” by company security after the meeting and told to turn over informational flyers. She claims her employee ID badge was seized and photographed.

These workers have formed a coalition at Charney’s urging, BuzzFeed reports, with its third meeting scheduled for Saturday.

In the second complaint, which was filed yesterday, employees claim that a new broad media policy instituted by the management is “silencing” workers and making it tough for them to act against unsatisfactory working conditions.

The complaint outlines what it alleges is American Apparel’s media policy, which it says was introduced on Jan. 25. According to the complaint, the policy “prohibits American Apparel employees and other personnel from making statements to, or otherwise having contact with, journalists and the media, insofar as it relates to American Apparel (including among other topics as to current and former employees and as to our business and operations.)”

In addition, the complaint claims the policy says that “The response to all media inquiries should be ‘no comment.”

That complaint points to a 2012 NLRB case about employee social media postings, where a court ruled against certain broad speech provisions that banned employees from saying things on social media “that object to their working conditions and seek the support of others in improving them.”

While many companies make workers sign nondisclosure and confidentiality policies so that employees won’t blab a company’s financial secrets or other private information, American Apparel employees claim in the complaint that the broadness of this particular rule infringes on their right to “protected concerted activity.

In response to this week’s complaints, an American Apparel spokesperson stressed the company’s commitment to “free speech and social commentary” and said it will “investigate these allegations to determine the actual facts.”

“Core principles of American Apparel are workers’ rights and respect for our employees,” a spokesperson told BuzzFeed news. “This is clear from our Code of Business Conduct and Ethics, which reflects our efforts to ensure that American Apparel’s workplaces are free from harassment, bullying and intimidation and which promotes fair treatment of employees and compliance with labor and employment laws.”

Previously in social media/NLRB: Can You Get Away With Complaining About Your Job Online? Maybe, Says NLRB

American Apparel Is Intimidating Workers, Complaint Alleges [BuzzFeed News]

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