This past Tuesday, the Village Voice asked, “Is This Woman Too Hot to Be a Banker?” The article tells the story of Debrahlee Lorenzana, a woman who alleges that Citibank fired her for her being too sexxy hott.
I don’t have much to say about this actual case in which–based on my read of the situation as the Voice presents it–Citibank appears to be pretty clearly at fault (among some of the most damning evidence that Citibank fired her for no legitimate reason is the fact the only documentation of alleged problems with Ms. Lorenzana’s work is a letter that scolded her for being late on two days that the bank wasn’t even open). But what I do find fascinating is the way the Voice, Ms. Lorenzana’s lawyer, and Ms. Lorenzana herself seek to tell her side of the story.
First, there is the photo shoot Ms. Lorenzana did for the article, in which she is wearing revealing attire more suited to a night out clubbing than a day at the office. I’m guessing the point is to establish a contrast between these photos and those taken by Lorenzana’s attorney (Jack Tuckner), which show her in the kind of clothing she allegedly wore to the office. Or maybe the point is just that lots of people like looking at hot chicks, so it helps your story get page views if you have pictures of a hot chick in revealing clothing.
Meanwhile, Mr. Tuckner’s photos aren’t exactly helping the case. Some do portray Lorenzana in appropriate work attire and plausible workplace situations, but then there are others that look like they are still shots from a porno that could be titled, “Citiwank.” Instead of making Lorenzana look like a beautiful woman just doing her job, they make her look like a beautiful woman who poses to get attention. I’ve worked in a lot of different offices and environments over the years, and I have to say I don’t remember any female co-workers who bent over their desks in the manner depicted in the latter photo. This does not mean that Lorenzana deserved to be fired (again, I say that I think Citibank appears to not have had legitimate grounds for dismissing Lorenzana), but I think it’s ill-advised for Tuckner to add fuel to the fire with these bizarre photos. Though he may leave the provocative ones out of his testimony during the upcoming arbitration hearing, they’re still out there, and they only contribute to the “blame the victim” mentality so beloved by our society. (Predictably, the article comments are filled with remarks like, “Get over yourself, honey–you’re not that hot!” and “Good for citi firing a ho dressing winch (sic)”).
Meanwhile, Ms. Lorenzana does herself no favors by revealing that she is “a shopaholic.” Elizabeth Dwoskin, the article’s author, notes that Lorenzana “shops for her work clothes at Zara, but when she has money, [...] she spends it on designer clothes.” She likes clothes so much, in fact, that she “has five closets full of Burberry, Hermès, Louis Vuitton, and Roberto Cavalli.” Again, totally Lorenzana’s business to spend her money however she likes, but later she seems to try to work sympathy out of readers by revealing that she and her twelve year old son had to cancel Christmas last year because of her unemployment. Um…if you have FIVE closets just for all of your designer clothes, I’m thinking missing one Christmas (the official holiday of consumerism) here and there isn’t too much of a tragedy.
Lorenzana also says that because of what a friend refers to as Lorenzana’s “spic pride,” she “will always work, so my son will have a roof over his head and food.” But that’s hardly heroism; where I come from, that’s called…um…raising the kid you decided to have. Kids need stuff–y’know, like a roof over their head and food and the like. And that stuff ain’t free, so parents must work to provide those things. Them’s the breaks, I’m afraid.
The Voice, in reporting on this case, of course has an obligation to provide information from all parties involved, even if that information might make the parties look bad. So I’m not saying they should have edited out the information about Lorenzana’s shopping habits and such; but their photo shoot hardly seems journalistic by any means. Meanwhile, Lorenzana would be wiser to reveal less about herself if only to avoid fanning the flames of those who are eager to portray her as materialistic and self-absorbed, someone who flaunted her assets at work and now is crying foul. And her lawyer needs to pare down the photos he took to just those that give an example of Lorenzana’s appropriate work attire, omitting those that seem more in the vein of “Debrahlee Does Dallas in the Copy Room.”
As for Citibank’s reputation in all this, I’m thinking the only way for them to come out looking like anything less than complete d-bags is to award Ms. Lorenzana the compensation she deserves; according to the article, Citibank’s only “documentation” that Lorenzana was not doing her job is the letter that notes her late arrival on those two days–a weekend–when the branch wasn’t even open. Further, in having Lorenzana work on “bringing in clients” but not on handling the accounts she won, Citibank comes off looking like they were basically pimping her out: Have the hot chick get the clients, then hand the clients off to others in the firm.
In 2010? Really?
In the meantime, I’ll be keeping an eye out for any cases in which a man is fired for being too hot. Will the Voice feature him shirtless in a photo shoot? I can’t wait to find out.