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Debrahlee Lorenzana Says Citibank Fired Her For Being Too Sexy

Should Women Tone Down Their Looks at the Office?

Being beautiful is a curse for 33-year-old Debrahlee Lorenzana. It always has been, she says. People attribute her achievements to her looks, so she's worked twice as hard to get ahead. But she can't win. Now she's suing Citibank for firing her for being too sexy.

Citibank certainly is accused of questionable actions — male managers pulling her aside and giving her a list of prohibited clothes (heels, turtlenecks, pencil skirts) and firing her for being late on dates that checked out to be weekends. Lorenzana, though, is not helping the case by insisting she's just too beautiful. In letter she wrote to Citibank's HR department she said this:

Other female employees "were able to wear such clothing because they were short, overweight, and they didn't draw much attention, but since I was five-foot-six, 125 pounds, with a figure, it wasn't 'appropriate'. . . . Are you saying that just because I look this way genetically, that this should be a curse for me."

To prove just how normally she dressed, her lawyer asked her to put some old work clothes on for a photo shoot. Overall, the clothes are harmless, though some push the boundaries of good taste for a bank, but her lawyer never denied she's sexy. In fact, his whole case is built around the argument that a woman should be allowed to be sexy.

And while women should certainly be as sexy as they want, banks are probably second only to high-profile law firms in terms of conservativeness. Citibank's actions aside, should conforming to an employer's dress code (whether explicit or implicit) be part of the job?

Image Source: Thinkstock
Join The Conversation
nylorac nylorac 7 years
well, no offense, but i'd be more offended if i saw a tub of lard in a dress too small for her than Debrahlee in her normal work clothes (that she got at Zara!).
zuke zuke 7 years
she says in the article that she can't afford to buy a new wardrobe, and yet owns a bunch of designer clothes. Hmmm...she does have a huge ego, but her clothes don't look that inappropriate to me.
ladysonoma ladysonoma 7 years
I can relate to this because I can't wear short skirts and heels without looking too sexy and getting lots of attention. Yet, my other friends who are good looking will wear these things and not look overly sexy. Even mid thigh length skirts, I have to wear flats or a very conservative top to get away with it.
Ladytron7000 Ladytron7000 7 years
I strongly doubt she was fired for looking too sexy. She was probably fired for acting too sexy: I'm a professional and a curvy lady like her before her 2nd implant. It's hard to find fitted but not skin-tight shirts that fit my breasts and small waist and skirts and pants that fit my waist and big butt. Paper sacks make me look and feel frumpy. Men will see that I have a figure not because of the way I dress but because I have a figure. I won't hide it. If it's distracting, try to focus. I'm distracted by bright blue eyes, and it would be outrageous to ask somebody to wear colored contacts.
loveandacademia loveandacademia 7 years
While I don’t agree with the way Ms. Lorenzana chose to portray the rest of the women in her workplace (no need to be mean!), her message hit home. It brought to mind the same discussion I had over and over in my Historical & Socio-cultural Issues course at Drexel with a peer who insisted that it was my appearance rather than my intellect that got me where I am today, and went on to say that he was more of a feminist than me because he did not think it was appropriate for women to dress in a way that hinted at their femininity or sexuality. Fast forward to a few months later, with this individual having to leave the program, and me reporting his ongoing sexual harrassment. I disagree wholeheartedly with the idea that women should dress like men or androgynously in the workplace, as it implies that work is a place solely for men. What harm is there in a powerful woman who looks like a woman and celebrates her gender in her personal style? What would it take to remind the world that men and women can be separate but equal? (Read the rest of my response at )
sparklestar sparklestar 7 years
6 inch heels are never appropriate for work, nevermind that hers are covered in snakeskin !!!!!!
Bettye-Wayne Bettye-Wayne 7 years
Beautyism is a real thing, just like racism and sexism and I'm glad to see that so many people here agree. But you can guard yourself against beautyism much more easily than racism or sexism: little to no make-up, fitted but not skin tight clothes, stylish but conservative wardrobe. Toning down your looks at work is a very small price to pay for a smoking hot body, gorgeous hair and a beautiful face that you can flaunt as needed. Whether Citibank fired her for her wardrobe or not remains to be seen, I mean I just don't know enough details to judge which way this will turn out in court. But really:

I refuse to believe that she wore that to work. That is a genuine fuck-me photo. I don't think she cares one way or another about her job at Citibank, I think she's hoping to cash in on her good looks somehow and filed this lawsuit for attention.
RockAndRepublic RockAndRepublic 7 years
She needs to get over herself.
faithlove faithlove 7 years
I would love to work with a girl like that, I would be turned on all the time. Especially if she wears hose.
faithlove faithlove 7 years
She should be beautiful.
sourcherry sourcherry 7 years
She wanted us to judge whether she is pretty or not, or else she shouldn't have pointed out that her other colleagues were unattractive and therefore could get away with wearing certain clothes. Also, as another commenter pointed out, prettier women than her worked at Citibank before her. Why weren't they fired? That's why I think the first reaction is to judge if she's really all that, because unless she was really exceptionally beautiful, her looks are certainly not the reason why she was fired.
vanilla19 vanilla19 7 years
I agree with 44 too. We shouldn't judge whether we think she is pretty or not, it is obvious that women are often not taken seriously in the workforce because of their looks.
Rosay77 Rosay77 7 years
I agree with #44.
gd101 gd101 7 years
she sounds very shallow! yes, women should be and feel sexy, BUT why would you want to be sexy at a bank? how boring.........
Pistil Pistil 7 years
If she had the skill and qualifications she would be an asset regardless of her wardrobe. It sounds like the company was trying to force her into quitting, which isn't fair. It is hard to take this woman seriously when her case includes a twenty page fashion spread. And maybe some of us are being insensitive by rating her 'hot or not', but the way she's publicizing this screams, 'look at me, look at me!'
mix-tape mix-tape 7 years
If a woman is honestly trying to climb the corporate ladder, she would know that any of those outfits will only help her woo men (look at that cleavage!!!) and not actually put real merit on her work. This lady is taking a step backwards for all women by the approach she is taking to her case, saying she's too beautiful and knocking short and overweight people, which seems like a double standard in itself.
ihaveaqtsn ihaveaqtsn 7 years
i hate that we are not focusing on the issue here. Who cares if she is actually pretty or not? Yes, she has a bad attitude, but I am really frustrated that a bunch of WOMEN are the first to judge another woman (some of you without reading the article or looking at the pictures). This issue is infuriating! She is an woman who, I feel, was taken advantage of. She was (supposedly) hired for her good looks as a sales person. She went out and sold, like she was hired to do, and her male counterparts received credit for the sale. She never received the proper training to properly procure and maintain her customer base, despite having requested it repeatedly. It seems to me that the company was using her good looks to drum up business and giving her accounts away! I mean, come on. This woman, bad attitude and all was obviously being treated unfairly and we're all too focused on whether or not she is pretty to even be pissed about it. Her work clothes (which are the pictures that are specifically labeled as work clothes) are NOT "painted on". They are not low cut and are things I see in my office (I work for the government) every day, and I guarantee you that my agency's dress code is quite a bit more conservative than Citibank's. I mean this is all assuming that her repeated complaints to HR were both valued and actually ignored by the company. There are a lot of factors in this case, and if its true, it is deplorable.
bryseana bryseana 7 years
I'm against discrimination on all levels. It's just her attitude. She basically called all her female co-workers unattractive. It just comes across as insensitive and tacky, which makes me question authenticity.
amber512 amber512 7 years
While some of the clothes seem fine, some of them are WAY over the top for a bank! What was she thinking? And I would definitely feel for her more if she wasn't so conceited.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 7 years
I thought you might be when you mentioned the metro. And yes, it is horrible here. And I've sometimes wished I was more discreet looking as well, but I have some friends who have done some pretty extensive work on the subject of street harassment, so I sometimes get all defensive about it. Sorry if I came off that way!
ckeller825 ckeller825 7 years
I'm from the D.C. area obviously know what I'm talking about, then :)
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