Is This Woman Too Hot To Work At Your Office? (Update)

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If you work at Citibank, the answer would apparently be yes, according to Debrahlee Lorenzana, who is suing the bank on the grounds that it fired her for being really good looking. So good looking, apparently, that it distracted them from the hard work they were doing at Citi and had to be stopped. Her boss Craig Fisher and one of his colleagues tried to make her less hot, allegedly, by pulling Lorenzana into an office one day and telling her she had to stop wearing turtlenecks, pencil skirts, three inch heels or "fitted" business suits. When Lorenzana brought up the matter of other females wearing way more revealing clothes, she was told those women's shapes were different from mine, and I drew too much attention." Lorenzana like this was kind of a bunch of bull shit ("I couldn't believe what I was hearing," Lorenzana recalls. "I said, 'You gotta be kidding me!' I was like, 'Too distracting? For who? For you? My clients don't seem to have any problem') so she decided not to change her wardrobe but rather fug herself up a bit by not wearing make-up and not blowing out her hair. She also wrote a couple letters to HR letting them know she was not pleased with how the meeting went but never heard back and her attempts to downplay how hot she was didn't work either.

"I could have worn a paper bag, and it would not have mattered," she says. "If it wasn't my shirt, it was my pants. If it wasn't my pants, it was my shoes. They picked on me every single day." Still, she continued to dress up for work—her brand of femininity is also cultural. "Where I'm from," she says, switching into Spanish to explain it, "women dress up—like put on makeup and do their nails—to go to the supermarket. And I'm not talking trashy, you know, like in the Heights. I was raised very Latin, you know? We're feminine. A woman in Puerto Rico takes care of herself. The Puerto Rican women here put down our flag."

A month or so later she received a message from Craig noting that she was being put on final notice for, among other things lagging sales, but there was some shadiness involving the fact that she was cited for being late on days the bank wasn't even open. Craig also worked Lorenzana's last nerve when he asked her to move some heavy boxes and told her to put on high heels to do so (she was wearing flip-flops at the time which you would think would've passed the dress code). She sent a couple of letters and emails to some VPs (who never responded) and then put in for a transfer, which was granted a few weeks later. Unfortunately, the gig they gave her in the new office was as a telemarketer and Lorenzana's title is "business banker." Didn't much matter though because she was soon canned from the Citi.

In August, her manager at the Rockefeller Center branch—a woman—sat her down and fired her. The female manager mentioned the problems related to her clothing at the previous branch. She did not mention work performance, Lorenzana says. The manager said she was sorry, but Lorenzana wasn't fit for the culture of Citibank.

Lorenzana knows this is all bull shit, as does her lawyer.

Her attorney, Jack Tuckner, who calls himself a "sex-positive" women's-rights lawyer, is the first one to say his client is a babe. But so what? For him, it all boils down to self-control. "It's like saying," Tuckner argues, "that we can't think anymore 'cause our penises are standing up—and we cannot think about you except in a sexual manner—and we can't look at you without wanting to have sexual intercourse with you. And it's up to you, gorgeous woman, to lessen your appeal so that we can focus!"

So they've filed this suit, which will unfortunately never be heard by a judge or jury but will instead go to arbitration. Tuckner is confident they've got a case though, but just to make sure, Tuckner "had a professional photographer shoot her in various work outfits in his office near Wall Street," to prove there's nothing wrong here.

Update: Citi had this to say in a statement: "We believe this lawsuit is without merit and we will defend against it vigorously. We respect the privacy of all of our employees and therefore cannot comment more specifically on this litigation, this former employee's overall performance, or the reasons for her termination- which an arbitration panel must resolve. Citi is committed to fostering a culture of inclusion and providing a respectful environment in the workplace. We have a strong commitment to diversity and we do not condone, or tolerate, discrimination within our business for any reason."

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