American Apparel is in a legal battle with its former head of European operations.
The Los Angeles-based company has been hit by another lawsuit, filed by Bernhard-Axel Ingo Brake, who alleges he was fired after complaining about the company’s employment practices in Europe.
In the complaint filed Tuesday in Los Angeles County Superior Court, Brake also contends he is owed more than $1 million in bonuses and commissions that were verbally promised to him by Dov Charney, founder and chief executive officer of Los Angeles-based American Apparel Inc.
Brake is suing for wrongful termination, breach of oral contract and infliction of emotional distress, among other charges.
This is the latest in a string of high-profile lawsuits against American Apparel and Charney. The company has countered, with a suit of its own against Brake in a German court, charging that the former executive was fired because he embezzled funds from the company.
“We are not sitting back any more; we are taking a proactive stance,” said Joyce Crucillo, general counsel at American Apparel.
Brake joined American Apparel in 2002 when it was still a fairly small, privately held company, and he moved to Germany in 2003 to start up a new division there, American Apparel Deutschland GmbH. He used a headquarters in Düsseldorf to build American Apparel’s operations throughout Europe. However, he said he became concerned about alleged employment practices encouraged by Charney, such as paying employees under the table to avoid taxes. He also alleges female employees favored by Charney misappropriated company funds and wasted company resources, to the detriment of American Apparel’s shareholders.
In its own suit, American Apparel charges that Brake hired his mistress, Irene Cuppone, for a high-level job managing the company’s Switzerland business, although she did not fulfill the duties of that position. In addition, the company alleges Brake hired his daughter, Annina Brake, to work in a company store, violating American Apparel nepotism rules, and paid her unwarranted bonuses, in an effort to enrich himself.
Brake’s lawyer is Keith Fink, who also is representing three other plaintiffs in Los Angeles County Superior Court against American Apparel and Charney: Mary Nelson, a former sales representative who filed a wrongful termination and sexual harassment suit in 2005; Robert Hernandez, a former IT employee who filed suit on Nov. 7, alleging he was fired after refusing to pad inventory figures, and Nikki Yang, a former custom order manager who filed suit on Dec. 1, charging she was subjected to a hostile work environment, in addition to being owed company stock.
American Apparel has filed suit, also on Dec. 1, against Yang for unjust enrichment and fraud.
Other cases pending against American Apparel and Charney include an employment discrimination case filed in Los Angeles this past summer by a former public relations employee, Jeneleen Floyd, and a case now in arbitration filed by former employee Chris Renfro, who claims he was subjected to a racist work environment.
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye
"Nowadays when life is not so happy with everything going on in the world, I think people come to me for a little bit of whimsy and color and fun." - Designer Rebecca De Ravenel on her cult-favorite jewelry line. (📸 : @vsteves) #wwd40
“Everyone is talking about how the retail industry is struggling, but I think it’s an incredible time because brands who are doing something different and innovative are setting themselves up for the future,” said @adamgoldston, who founded the luxury athletic brand @apl with his brother @ryangoldsten. The Goldston’s are part of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables. See the rest of the list on WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
@eyeswoon blogger Athena Calderone debuted her first-ever cookbook, “Cook Beautiful,” which is heavily centered on the presentation and visual expression of food. Pictured here are her miso glazed carrots from the book. Get the recipe on WWD.com. (📷: @johnny_miller_) #wwdeye
“It’s passion that helps get anybody to a certain point and it’s what’s propelled me,” said Kith founder @ronniefieg, one of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables who are changing the face of retail, fashion and beauty. Fieg, who opened a Manhattan flagship on October 7, began his career at age 13 as a stock boy and salesman for footwear chain David Z. “I think staying true to [my] beliefs, hard work and passion have gotten me to where [Kith] is today.” See the rest of the 40 at WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
25-year-old @samweaving is about to break out this fall, starring in Netflix’s horror film “The Babysitter,” fittingly out today on Friday the 13th. That’s not the only place you’ll be seeing her, though — Weaving’s got a role Showtime’s “SMILF” and another alongside Frances McDormand and Woody Harrelson in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” Though she’s got a full plate at the moment, there’s one role she’s got her eye on: Marilyn Monroe. “I’m a little too young at the moment, but it’s on my bucket list,” the actress told WWD (📷: @dandoperalski) #wwdeye
BFF's Poppy Jamie and Suki Waterhouse celebrated the launch of their bag line Pop x Suki at Nordstrom last night. "The line is really about our friendship, and how we are so different but complement each other," said Waterhouse. 👯 (📷: Katie Jones) #wwdeye
After designing the new @louisvuitton and @bulgariofficial flagships and a @chanelofficial boutique opening in Japan, @petermarinoarchitect has another project on his plate: The Lobster Club. Located in the Seagram Building, it’s the famed architect’s first restaurant project in New York, serving up modern Japanese brasserie-style cuisine. Bronze hues, bespoke material detailing, blush and chartreuse tones and a heavy emphasis on Picasso can be seen throughout. Mark your calendars for Nov. 1 for the much-anticipated opening. (📷: @clint_spaulding) #wwdeye
Did you know: @carlychaikin of "Mr. Robot" has been painting for about a decade? The actress, who plays Darlene on the show, is a self-taught artist who lists Salvador Dalí and Chuck Close as some of her idols. Chaikin told WWD that painting is a form of meditation for her — A much-needed one given the intensity of "Mr. Robot." See a piece Chaikin is working on at WWD.com (📷: @jilliansollazzo) #wwdeye