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A rogues gallery of troublesome chief executives

American Apparel Hipster Turns Preppy As Stock May Be DelistedAmerican Apparel Hipster Turns Preppy As Stock May Be Delisted
Dov Charney.Photograph by Keith Bedford — Bloomberg via Getty Images

American Apparel’s CEO Dov Charney was fired earlier this week for “alleged misconduct,” potentially ending his long history of strange behavior and sexual harassment claims. Charney is far from the only CEO to cause problems for his company. Here is’s “rogues gallery” of troublesome chief executives.

Bob Parsons, GoDaddy

GoDaddy founder Bob Parsons

Animal rights activist really hate this tech CEO. In 2011, he made waves for posting disturbing videos of himself standing next to a dead elephant holding a scarily massive gun. Parsons tried to explain that the animal he’d killed was a “problem elephant,” but that did very little to quell the concerns of his critics.

Dan T. Cathy, Chik Fil A

In case you’ve been hiding under a rock for the past few years, Cathy has found himself in hot water more than a few times recently for coming out strongly against marriage equality. He repeatedly said he and his company were “supportive of the family” and that he was “guilty as charged” when it came to opposing same-sex marriage. Though he never took back his viewpoints, Cathy has recently stepped back from wading into political waters.

Tim Armstrong, AOL

First, there was the spontaneous firing of a worker during a company-wide meeting. Armstrong seemed to have ridden out that faux pas when he really stepped in it earlier this year, blaming the company’s decision to change the way it matches 401(k) contributions on the money AOL had to pay for employees who had “distressed babies.” The backlash against Armstrong was swift and harsh, forcing him to publicly apologize for his conduct yet again.

John Schnatter, Papa Johns

You may love their garlic sauce, but if you like Obamacare you probably don’t like the Papa Johns’ CEO. In 2012, Schnatter said that the Affordable Care Act would add around 14 cents to the cost of a large pizza. Fans of the healthcare law took to Facebook to mock Schnatter and pledge their pizza business to other pie slingers, proving once and for all that pizza and politics don’t mix.

Mike Jeffries, Abercrombie & Fitch

Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries.

You could call this guy “Charney-lite.” He isn’t quite as creepy, but some of the things he does still make you shudder. According to a Bloomberg story in 2012, Jeffries has disturbingly specific standards for what men working on his private jet should wear, right down to insisting on Abercrombie-branded boxer briefs. He also made it perfectly clear that he only wants “cool kids” to wear Abercrombie clothes, so the rest of us will have to keep on slumming it at Old Navy.

Mark Hurd, Hewlett-Packard

The scandal attached to Hurd is one where few details have emerged. What we do know is that Hurd resigned after it was discovered he submitted false expense reports to hide a “close personal relationship” with a female contractor, according to a Wall Street Journal report. The company didn’t find that he’d violated sexual harassment standards, though the women sent a letter alleging he did. 

Chip Wilson, Lululemon

Here’s another executive who decided that only certain people should buy his products. Wilson, who was president (not CEO) at the time of his remarks, said that his company’s yoga pants “don’t work” for the bodies of certain women. He stepped down from his role later that year.

Brian Dunn, Best Buy

Former Best Buy CEO Brian Dunn

This one’s a good ole-fashioned sex scandal. Dunn resigned in 2012 after he was found to have had an affair with a subordinate. Of course, that seems relatively tame compared to some of the things Charney is reportedly accused of.

Martha Stewart, Martha Stewart Living

One of the few rogue CEOs to actually face jail time for her roguish actions, Stewart went to the big house for around 6 months in 2004 for her role in an insider trading scandal. Since then she has largely repaired her image, though, and remains as popular as ever amongst decorating and cooking devotees.