A former American Apparel employee is suing the company and its CEO for alleged sexual harassment, including accusations the hipster fashion executive forced her into oral sex at his Manhattan apartment.
"I don’t want to be a victim anymore," said plaintiff Irene Morales.
In her lawsuit, filed in Brooklyn Supreme Court, Morales claims American Apparel founder Dov Charney invited her to his home in 2008 when she was an 18-year-old sales associate at the Chelsea store.
Once inside the apartment entryway, Charney allegedly forced Morales to perform oral sex on him and, according to the civil complaint, "dragged her into his bedroom, threw her on the bed, got on top of her and forced her to perform another act."
The lawsuit, which names both Charney and American Apparel, seeks more than $250 million in damages.
Morales says Charney made repeated sexual favors a prerequisite for her to keep her job.
"She was told that if she wanted to keep her job and she wanted advancement – if she wanted to be a model for the company - she was going to have to engage in sexual conduct," said Morales’ attorney Eric Baum.
According to the complaint, after Charney forced his teenage sales associate into oral sex at his 18th Street Manhattan apartment, he held her captive.
“She was then, to all intents and purposes, held prisoner in the apartment and forced to perform additional sexual acts,” the lawsuit alleges.
American Apparel managers did not immediately return messages left by NBCNewYork.
Charney is no stranger to allegations of predatory sexual conduct. He has been the subject of at least two other sexual harassment suits. In one case the plaintiff withdrew her claim after the fashion executive paid her more than $1 million.
Baum said he has not ruled out the possibility of seeking criminal charges against the American Apparel CEO. Irene Morales was 18 years old at the time of the alleged sex acts, but she says Charney’s sexual advances, including requests for inappropriate pictures, started when she was 17.
Morales says the sexual harassment left her grappling with severe emotional issues. She dropped out after her first year of college at West Virginia University and is no longer considering a career in fashion. The former retail employee suggested there may be more American Apparel sales associates who join her with accusations against Dov Charney.
"I’m concerned that it could have possibly happened to hundreds if not thousands of people," Morales said.