Can You Be Fired for Being Too Hot?

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Debrahlee Lorenzana's wrongful termination suit against Citibank, which fired her last summer, is typical in many ways. Citibank says they were unhappy with her work performance, Lorenzana argues her managers had a different motive. Believing her firing was illegal, and needing money to pay the rent, she hired a lawyer and filed suit. But there's something very unusual about this case. Lorenzana says she was fired for being too physically attractive. The Village Voice's Elizabeth Dwoskin recounts the story:

This is the way Debbie Lorenzana tells it: Her bosses told her they couldn't concentrate on their work because her appearance was too distracting. They ordered her to stop wearing turtlenecks. She was also forbidden to wear pencil skirts, three-inch heels, or fitted business suits. Lorenzana, a 33-year-old single mom, pointed out female colleagues whose clothing was far more revealing than hers: "They said their body shapes were different from mine, and I drew too much attention," she says.

As Lorenzana's lawsuit puts it, her bosses told her that "as a result of the shape of her figure, such clothes were purportedly 'too distracting' for her male colleagues and supervisors to bear."

Village Voice also helpfully provides a slide show of Lorenzana photos for judicial study purposes and a video interview is below. If Lorenzana can prove that she was fired for her looks it will force the court to decide whether an employee can be fired for being too hot. Maybe, once the Supreme Court finishes ruling on the speech and privacy issues of the Snyder v. Phelps case, we'll get lucky and the justices will turn their attention to the potentially landmark case of Citibank v. Hotness.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.