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Dressed for distraction?

entertainment Updated: Jun 14, 2010 02:12 IST
Rahul Sabharwal

Last week, Debrahlee Lorenzana, a Citibank employee in Manhattan, filed a case against the bank after she was sacked for being “too distracting” for her male colleagues and supervisors. The brunette says she was dressing professionally, but her male bosses still found her too steamy and fired her.

While the case may seem odd at first, working women in the Capital, too, say they’ve been asked to ‘dress up’ so they aren’t ‘distracting’ to their male counterparts. “We were told what to wear and, more importantly, what not to wear by the HR, during our induction. While girls were told not to wear revealing clothes, the same rule doesn’t apply to men,” says Sakshi, 25, working with a German BPO for 3 years now.

“We’ve been asked to wear business casuals and no revealing attire as it causes distraction. Skirts have to be of knee length, and we can’t wear round neck tees either,” says Sushmita Guha, 29, an operations manager at a software firm.

Sometimes, though, the companies specify what to wear instead of what to avoid. “My company asked me to wear skirts because we cater to clients from abroad. I told them my in-laws aren’t comfortable with it, and was told that I should then carry Western clothes to office and change there,” says Ekta Sharma, who’s with an MNC.

The HR departments have their work cut out for them. “We don’t want clients to be shocked. Girls are told not to wear tops with plunging necklines or skirts more than three inches above the knees. No such rules exist for men,” says an HR manager.

Men, too, admit that the rules are biased against women, but justify it. “Well, there’s very little a guy can do, to be seen as distracting. It’s not the same for women, hence the need for a stricter dress code for them, I
guess,” says Sidharth, 24, a content writer.