Workplace Discrimination or Harassment? Fired For Being Too Pretty

by Silicon Valley Blogger on 2010-06-0918

I used to work in a male dominated field as a software engineer in Silicon Valley. Oh wait, I still work in a male dominated field as a personal finance blogger…. 😉 . Kidding aside, I’ve found that the large companies I’ve worked for have been very sensitive to both work discrimination and harassment complaints or issues — a good thing, certainly. In fact, I see them go overboard to try to accommodate minority members. Let’s just say that I never felt more in the catbird’s seat than when I was pregnant while employed. Or unemployed, for that matter! I still remember the time when I managed to negotiate a sweet severance package when a company laid me off — I simply mentioned that I was pregnant, and they gave me a better deal! Same thing goes for your state’s employment laws; well at least here, in California, there’s been a lot of support for workers. Pull a back muscle and you could be on the dole (for a while). Would be curious to know what employment laws are like, in your neck of the woods.

Workplace Discrimination or Harassment? Fired For Being Too Pretty?

Now while I’ve heard of people complaining about hitting the glass ceiling or getting ignored at work for a variety of crazy reasons (e.g. too fat, too skinny, too old, too young, wrong color, wrong gender, too this and that), I haven’t heard of the situation where someone got fired because they were too pretty or too cute. In fact, I always thought that good looking people have the advantage in the work force. Especially in areas where they are a good fit (say in sales and PR and you need someone attractive to represent your company….). So I found myself questioning the complaint that this lady lodged against Citibank, whom she claims fired her due to her “hot” looks.

workplace discrimination
workplace discrimination
workplace discrimination

Fine. For the curious, more photos here.

I doubt she has a leg to stand on. Citibank (the company in question here) can always claim that she was fired due to her work performance (which is probably the likely reason for the termination, or it could be some other reason along the lines of work disruption). She’d have a stronger case if she had documentation of sexual harassment at work (here’s more on the right way to dress up for work on a budget). But it seems like she doesn’t have the proof for this type of serious allegation so she’s opted for the “I got fired because I’m pretty” excuse.

For more of my ramblings on beauty and how it could affect your pocketbook, you can check out my articles:

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Financial Samurai June 9, 2010 at 10:58 pm

Gotta admit, she looks pretty attractive! Maybe she was disrupting the concentration of too many colleagues, which resulted in lower productivity and lower profits!

Gotta love America for being able to sue everybody on anything!


Consumermiser June 10, 2010 at 1:32 am

Hmmmm. I came across this article the other day. She may have a tough case, but if this is true and others were too distracted by her beauty, maybe they need some training or need to be moved, and not her.

I hope she is able to turn this into a positive somehow, whether its through better job offers or hey, mabe a reality TV show?!? Seems like everyone with 15 minutes of fame is trying to spin it into a show (see Octomom).

Steve June 10, 2010 at 4:36 am

Lorenzana is a good-looking woman, but I’ve worked with several good-looking women who’d compare quite easily with her. I also have worked in a situation where women have been asked to tone down the “sexiness” of their outfits. One woman was quite inappropriately wearing miniskirts, tight blouses, etc. in a very buttoned-down professional environment, and was warned several times. She simply didn’t get it – clients wanted a conservative, almost somber, set of advisors.

So my take is that maybe Lorenzana kept on ignoring repeated reprimands and got fired for that, not for “being hot.” It’s the same thing that would happen to me if I repeatedly came to work wearing flip-flops and refused to stop even after several warnings. But it’s much more fun, in her case, to claim hotness. She’s all over the web now – look for an appearance on the Apprentice or some other reality show soon, I bet…

Rob Bennett June 10, 2010 at 5:18 am

I know none of the facts here. So I think I need to preface this by saying that I don’t know what I am talking about.

That said, I don’t find it impossible to believe that there is something to her complaint. Corporate types often look for the easy way out of a difficult situation. I can imagine that comments were being directed at her by idiots and the bank felt a need to do something. The proper thing is to talk to the idiots. But it might be that there were several idiots and only one of her, so it was easier to fire the one her than talk to the several idiots.

I believe that it’s possible that she got fired for her looks. Another way of saying it is that it’s possible that she was fired because of the immaturity of some of her co-workers and the cowardice of her boss.


Money Obedience June 10, 2010 at 7:39 am

This is a very interesting case. It contradicts many studies that tell us good-looking people make more money than average looking people or even ugly people.

I agree with Financial Samurai. You can sue for anything. So, she can sue for being too good-looking and then we get a class-action lawsuit of not so good-looking people. Everybody got a case.

The Digerati Spouse June 10, 2010 at 2:07 pm

I notice that for some reason she always poses to the side. Perhaps the real issue was an inability for her to face the customer head-on.

Silicon Valley Blogger June 10, 2010 at 2:46 pm

@The Digerati Spouse,
Well, to contradict your theory, the lady has a photo album (check the link I supplied above) showing her in a variety of different photos. I happened to pick these ones by coincidence! 😉 But thanks for your pun…. 😀

Brad Campbell June 10, 2010 at 5:55 pm

Are you sure it has nothing to do with her boss’ angry wife? Jealousy can be cruel sometime, and in some cases, it might cause somebody to get fired.

Impulse Magazine June 10, 2010 at 7:18 pm

I think that sometimes women draw to much attention in the workplace. June 11, 2010 at 3:53 am

I saw this article and I doubt Citi has a lot to worry about. At least I hope not, I have a lot of their stock 🙂

Kidding aside, most large companies take this type of stuff very seriously. I am sure they have covered their basis on why she was fired. Even if you are in a right to work state, most companies now are extremely thorough when firing someone.

I think she is just getting her 5 min of fame.

Nathan J June 12, 2010 at 9:16 am

Indeed she’s pretty but I don’t think it is the right reason for being fired. It could have been safer if the company opted to get other reasons rather than just firing her out of nothing or maybe I just don’t know too much why she was fired. And if she thinks she’s way too pretty for the bank, perhaps she can be a model if she likes.

Valentina June 13, 2010 at 9:15 am

There are lots of pretty – no make that stunningly beautiful – women in the corporate world. If being pretty is a liability to a corporation there would be firings left right and center. Oh, and did she suddenly morph into a pretty woman? Methinks there is more to the firing than prettiness.

ConsumerMiser June 13, 2010 at 2:27 pm

In response to Impulse Magazine’s comment above: I think some people are distracted by others at work based on the looks of the person, but these folks that are getting distracted need to get over it. I recall a guy complaining about all the female sportscasters and sports reporters on television and that it was distracting him from focusing on the game. I think the issue is with the person getting distracted and not the person being looked at or objectified. Keep the focus.

misstopaz June 14, 2010 at 6:06 am

Well, you are onto something here. I have friends who were fired for getting pregnant or weren’t hired because they weren’t pretty enough. It’s sad not to be hired for a position you know you are a pro just because you don’t meet the company’s “beauty” requirements.

CreditShout June 25, 2010 at 2:16 pm

I’ve heard of people not getting hired because they weren’t pretty enough, but never someone getting fired for being too pretty! She got hired there in the first place, so I’m assuming she didn’t look any different then. People can’t understand that they aren’t performing well enough in the workplace so they have to blame something else. If you’re working at a bank, I don’t care how you look, just take care of my money!

Dylan Johnson February 3, 2011 at 5:35 pm

My mom got fired because the girl she worked with, didn’t get along with her. She was working at an Attorney’s office. She was on her 90-Day Probationary Period. They fire on a ” 3-Strike” basis, but her boss said “She didn’t have any.” One main asset that he said was “That she doesn’t like you because you are prettier than her.” It sounds unethical to me. She is a single parent and times are pretty hard. Then she got dumped with this..Any advice?

Michael Feaster May 26, 2011 at 4:07 pm

From the pictures, she wears attire which is super tight and form fitting. That’s NOT what most bankers wear. I’ve been in banks before, you can’t tell me otherwise. Combine clothing too tight and a too flirty attitude, then you can have unfortunate situations at work. Sure, in her mind, she is totally appropriate, but that’s in her mind. But how good is her judgement?

The bottom line is, unless she’s a Hooters waitress, she’s not there to show off her body. IT’S A BANK! If she is told to tone it down, then tone it down. It’s not a nightclub, IT’S A BANK!

I love working around attractive women. If they wear very revealing clothing, that’s great. But too many times I’ve seen where women use poor judgement, then hide behind their sex as an excuse… If you are mature, and can dress sexy, and flirt at work, and be aware of how other people are perceiving you, and not present a bad image, or be too distracting, or have a double standard, then fine. But all women don’t have great judgment…

There’s a woman where I work who has a very large chest. It’s kind of difficult NOT to notice it. But if you notice it, she seems to get offended… I would rather she cover up if she can’t show off, then rationally deal with people’s response. IE — either you can be mature, or you have poor judgement. If you can be mature, great. If you have poor judgment, then dress like you’re not a stripper.

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