The banking beauty fired for her 'distracting' work wear

07 June 2010

Oh, it was so much simpler in the days of the power-suit: when the size of your shoulder pads was the only variable in a woman’s office attire. Now uniform rules are more lax, there’re so many more options: and so many more opportunities for getting it wrong. How short is too short? When does flattering become flaunting? And can you really get away with a playsuit in the boardroom? Most of us have misjudged it at some point…
So, we do have sympathy for banker Debrahlee Lorenzana, 33, who claims she was fired from her job at Citibank, because her pencil skirts and fitted suits distracted male colleagues. According to a lawsuit she’s filed against her former employers she was told not to wear high heels because they drew attention to her figure and stopped male colleagues from working.

Her lawsuit claims she was ordered to, 'Refrain from wearing certain items of clothing, in particular, turtleneck tops, pencil skirts, fitted business suits, or other properly tailored clothing.’

She was also told that 'as a result of her tall stature, coupled with her curvaceous figure, she should not wear classic high-heeled business shoes, as this purportedly drew attention to her body in a manner that was upsetting to her easily distracted male managers'.
When the £45,000-a-year business banker pointed out that other women in her office wore similar get-ups, with no backlash, her bosses reasoning was 'their general unattractiveness rendered moot their sartorial choices.' So less attractive women can dress as provocatively as they fancy?  

Debrahlee complained to human resources in May last year, but was sacked in August and is now suing Citilink. Her lawyer says she was ‘punished because her male bosses couldn’t handle her libido.’

'Never did I ever show cleavage,’ said Debrahlee, ‘I like fashion, but I always dressed professionally. I can't help it that I have curves. And I'm not going to go eat and gain 50 or 100 pounds because my job wants me to be the same size as everyone else.'

Looking at her list of ‘don’t’ – ‘no fitted business suits or properly tailored clothing’ – did her employers expect Debrahlee to wear dresses too sizes too big for her? Or maybe some sort of tabard to cover her figure? Do you think Citibank’s actions are outrageously sexist? Or should female execs tone down their curves in the workplace?  

By Amy Molloy

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