The CEOs of America’s biggest companies sometimes seem to think that life is an MTV music video. They dress in expensive clothes, surround themselves with beautiful women and behave very, very badly. Whether they’re doing a line of cocaine off of mirror-topped desks or taking potential secretaries home for an “intimate” interview, some of America’s biggest executive officers have turned responsibility into a four letter word – and they’re not planning to stop anytime soon.
But they should stop, because along with this extreme lifestyle come extreme consequences. As this Phoenix criminal attorney will tell you, Americans love lawsuits as much as baseball and apple pie. Not only have the cases against CEOs proven to be the costliest in America’s long, litigious history, they’ve also proven to be some of the most amusing. Just take a look at these four lawsuits currently making their way through the courts and see what you think of the bad behavior that triggered them.
- Dov Charney redefined “child labor.” American Apparel chief Dov Charney is always happy to tell you that his company’s products aren’t produced by child labor. But it’s not children making clothes that have gotten Charney in trouble – it’s the children wearing them. According to a lawsuit filed this year, Charney allegedly treated American Apparel’s stable of teenage models as his own personal harem, forcing them to endure months of unwanted sex and nude photography sessions just to make it into the company’s revealing catalog. The worst part? Charney doesn’t believe he’s done anything wrong, stating in an interview, “I frequently drop my pants to show people my new product,” and “There’s some of us that love sluts. It could be also an endearing term.”
- Ephren Taylor became the Youngest African American Ponzi Schemer. Ephren Taylor was once hailed as the youngest African American CEO in the country. These days, his customers call him something a little less flattering. A class action suit filed in October accuses the chief of City Capital Corp. of running his company like an elaborate Ponzi scheme, costing thousands of investors – including 25,000 members of an Atlanta church – their life savings. According to the church, Taylor and Bishop Eddie Long worked together to strong-arm parishioners into putting up money for a proposed housing development for the poor. After he got the money, Taylor decided to spend it on illegal lottery machines instead, keeping all of the profits for himself. What would Jesus do? Probably not this.
- Brian Moynihan oversaw a robot foreclosure army. Did Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan create the robo-signing program that his company used to illegally foreclose on thousands of homeowners? Probably not, but as the head of the bank it’s his responsibility to own up to it – and that’s exactly what one Rhode Island attorney is forcing him to do. Moynihan has officially been named a defendant in a $1.4 billion federal fraud lawsuit regarding the thousands of foreclosures executed by Bank of America starting in 2006. Moynihan is set to be deposed later this year, and the bank’s efforts to block him from taking the stand have been ineffective so far, much to the joy of countless homeowners.
- Caroline Pieper-Voigt abused her power for a ticket to the Daytime Emmys. The career of Caroline Pieper-Voigt, the former head of Fusion brand cosmetics, might as well be a case study in a textbook entitled “How Not to Run a Company.” A lawsuit filed last year claims that she awarded sweetheart contracts to her friends, lied about Fusion’s finances and used company assets to finance her own ventures. What kind of ventures? Well, apparently she donated $500,000 to the Daytime Emmy Awards just so that she could be featured on the red carpet. It’s hard to decide what Fusion should be more upset about, the fact that Pieper-Voigt stole half a million dollars or the fact that she couldn’t spring for a more prestigious awards show than the Daytime Emmys.
These are some of the more ridiculous CEO lawsuits currently making headlines, but they definitely aren’t the only ones circulating through the courts. As long as executives are given unlimited power and very limited responsibility, they’ll continue to get themselves into trouble, and America will continue to call them on it by suing them for all they’re worth. The only thing we can do, as consumers, is to sit back, enjoy the show and give a cheer every time justice lands a victory.