Twenty Days of Harassment and Racism as an American Apparel Employee

July 22: On my first day, my manager instructs me on how to seek out potential shoplifters: "Look out for Black girls, because they're always the ones shoplifting." She says, "I know it's a stereotype, but it's true."

July 23: One of my coworkers insists that Dov Charney should not be blamed for the sexual harassment of employees because "it's not like he raped them" and "it seems like they were into it, too." She says that people often come into the store and ask employees what they think about their CEO being known for sexual harassment, and she "doesn't understand why they make such an issue out of it."

July 24: A coworker confirms my observation that the manager profiles shoppers and employees, by both race and attractiveness. "Every time a girl drops off her resume, the first thing she asks me is if the girl was cute," she tells me. "And she never hires Black girls. We only have one, and she works in back stock." At American Apparel, there's an emphasis on having "the right kind of customer" wearing the clothes, and I notice that customers who fit the brand aesthetic (attractive, trendy) are helped with more enthusiasm.

July 25: A man asks for my help selecting underwear, and wants to know what size I think he is. I direct him to a size chart on the wall near the underwear. He offers to pay me to watch him try on underwear and let him know which I think are the best fit. When I tell a coworker, she's unconcerned. She says that at American Apparel, this "just happens" and that I shouldn't let it get to me.



July 29: While assisting a customer into a fitting room, the manager passes me a note that says "WATCH HER ITEMS!!!" The customer is Black. It's clear that racial profiling not only occurred regularly, but that as an employee was expected to enforce it.



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