American Apparel workers protected by ban aimed at managers

Frank S. Clowney III

California employees at American Apparel may have additional protection from unsolicited attention by managers. Shortly after firing its chief executive and founder, the company filed an intent with the Securities and Exchange Commission to overhaul its code of ethics. Its updated policies were soon disclosed containing language clearly curtailing personal relationships initiated by supervisors with subordinates and curbing sexual harassment.

Although an expert in human relations examined the documents and found them in line with other companies’ judicious codes of ethics, she also stated the ultimate factor in a company’s tolerance of harassment begins with its top management. Change must begin with senior executives and filter down to establish positive culture in the interrelations of supervisors, managers and workers.

Standards of conduct between employees, especially bosses and their subordinates, is a topic typically addressed within a company’s policies. The revamped code of ethics, with its declaration to not tolerate abusive conduct, is a step in helping American Apparel repair its damaged reputation from allegations that include sexual harassment against the retailer’s former CEO.

People go to work to earn a living and provide for their families. There is no workplace in California where a hostile work environment should be tolerated. Sexual harassment is not the only aspect that may constitute a hostile work environment. Factors, such as age, ethnicity, race, religion and sexual orientation are some of the factors protected by law. California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act protects employees from these and other forms of sexual harassment and discrimination. Workers should not have to endure stalled careers or intimidation when lawyers experienced in employment law may be able to help sort through the actions to determine a legal strategy.

Source: The Huffington Post, “American Apparel Now Explicitly Bans Managers From Hitting On Workers”, Kim Bhasin , Jan. 8, 2015