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Bank employee fired for being too sexy

world Updated: Jun 05, 2010 14:40 IST

A former Citibank employee has filed a lawsuit against her employers for allegedly firing her because her male colleagues found her "too distracting".

Debrahlee Lorenzana, 33, who worked in a New York branch of the bank, also claimed she was not allowed to wear certain clothes because it was "too distracting" for her bosses and co-workers.

"My entire life, I have been dealing with this. I couldn't take it anymore!" Lorenzana told the Village Voice, which did a cover story on her.

"I couldn't believe what I was hearing. 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, Lorenzana was asked to stop wearing things like pencil skirts turtlenecks, 3-inch heels or fitted business suits.

"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," she said.

Lorenzana, who is also a mother, stated that her female colleagues were allowed to wear the clothing she was told not to because of her "body type".

She even described some of her female co-workers dressing far more provocatively than herself.

Lorenzana filed a lawsuit against Citigroup for the unlawful termination. Citibank has issued a statement regarding the allegation levied against it.

"Lorenzana has chosen to make numerous unfounded accusations and inaccurate statements against Citibank and several of our employees," the bank said.

"While we will not discuss the details of her case, we can say that her termination was solely performance-based and not at all related to her appearance or attire. We are confident that when all of the facts and documentation are presented, the claim will be dismissed," it added.

The media here have been fascinated by Lorenzana's story and her potential lawsuit on sexual harassment and wrongful termination.

The Village Voice described her as having "JLo curves meets Jessica Simpson rack meets Audrey Hepburn elegance."

ABC news, however, reported that it is unlikely that Lorenzana will get her day in court because of something called the "mandatory arbitration clause", which means that in her contract she agreed that any dispute will be settled through arbitration.

But Lorenzana's lawyer, Jack Tuckner, said he and his client would have preferred a jury trial.

"A jury will act [more] with their heart and their emotions than an arbitrator ever will," he told ABC. "You're far less likely to ever see a penny of punitive (damages) with an arbitrator."