According to the East Bay Express, an arbitrator in Oakland ruled that Christopher Renfro, a former American Apparel employee was racially discriminated against by a former supervisor who made offensive comments about his race. Renfro alleged that Sean Alonzo repeatedly called him an offensive word during a July 2007 business trip to renovate an American Apparel store in Tennessee. According to testimony, the company failed to discipline Alonso until it was threatened with litigation. American Apparel gave Alonso a written warning for his actions, followed by a pay raise two days later.
Renfro received a financial award of $343,000 after it was found that his racial discrimination complaint did have merit. A portion of the award will go to his attorneys, according to a California state law that entitles any winning plaintiff to be reimbursed for his attorney fees.
This is not the first time American Apparel has been accused of discriminating against its employees. Recently the company was accused of having a policy of firing employees that management deemed too ugly. A store manager blew the whistle that American Apparel CEO Dov Charney made store managers across the country take group photos of their employees so that he could personally judge people based on their looks. Charney issued a vague denial saying the company hired individuals with a fashion sense and that does not necessarily mean they have to be physically attractive.
Kesluk, Silverstein & Jacob – Los Angeles employment attorney