The irony was not lost on the Feminist Apparel employees who discovered an old social media post in which the CEO admitted he had sexually abused women in the past. The staff reportedly took the issue up with the CEO, Alan Martofel. They asked Martofel to step down and to issue a public apology, detailed Business Insider. Even though it appeared at first that the CEO would oblige, he decided to do something else: fire everyone.
Perhaps if Martofel had not posted his admittance of past sexual abuse, he could have gotten away with it. Either way, it was supposedly known that Martofel had founded the company to make amends for his past actions, while it appears that the employees were clueless about the CEO’s reasoning behind starting the company.
In a post from 2013, the same year that Feminist Apparel was founded, the CEO described his past actions in light of the conversation about rape culture in America.
“We’ve all either faced this firsthand, seen it, heard a firsthand account of it, or are guilty of it ourselves… I’m someone who’s guilty of it. I’ve grinded up on women on buses and at concerts without their consent. I’ve made out with ‘the drunk chick’ at a party because it was easier. I’ve put a woman’s hand on my dick while she was sleeping.”
For Feminist Apparel employees, the post was shocking and went against their core values. Former employee Ryker Fry elaborated.
“This was a place that claimed to be ethical and feminist… It was so hard to hear that Alan had done those things and hidden them from us, because that meant that we had been working for an abuser who was taking money from abuse victims.”
The company only had nine staff members, but all were fired via email. The official reason cited was “pursuant to the guidelines of the policy and procedure manual at Feminist Apparel.”
However, it appears that the only reason the entire staff was nixed is because Martofel didn’t want to step down or issue a public apology, after all. Perhaps he hoped that by firing the staff, he would somehow be able to carry on and continue to profit by selling feminist messaging.
None of the terminated employees were given severance pay.
And as far as the CEO? He’s already posted on Facebook that he’s looking to hire new people. But as word spreads about why the company needs to re-hire from the ground up, the only people who are likely to apply either don’t know about the controversy, or perhaps they don’t care. Whatever the reason, only time will tell if consumers will choose to support this now-embattled brand.