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Single Mom Fired For Being 'Too Hot' Speaks

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momlogic's Vivian: If you haven't heard of "hot banker" Debrahlee Lorenzana yet, you will. Her "hotness" -- and her harrowing tale of sexual discrimination during her tenure at Citibank -- has been plastered all over New York newsstands since last week, and her story is poised to go national. (Among other things, Debrahlee alleges that Citibank execs told her that her pencil skirts and turtlenecks were "distracting" to male employees.)

Debrahlee Lorenzana

Since Debrahlee's a mom like us (her son is 11), we were fortunate enough to get her on the horn this weekend to discuss her trials and travails.

momlogic: What were you thinking during your period of harassment Citibank?

Debrahlee Lorenzana: Honestly, when everything was going on, I not only was in shock, I didn't want to come to work any longer. There were numerous times I called my boyfriend crying because of the things that were going on. I came in with such high expectations to work for this corporation, and it was so unfair that I was feeling attacked for any little reason and wasn't doing the job I came to do. I'd go home to my son and didn't want to show him how upset I was, so I had no one to talk to. He'd come over to me after work and I'd say to him, "Mommy needs some alone-time tonight. Is it OK?" And he'd say, "Mommy, are you OK? Do you want me to make you a peanut butter and jelly?" And I'd say, "It's OK, honey; Mommy just needs some time" -- and he'd just go to his room. I was so sad, because I couldn't be home with him during the day and when all this was going on, but I needed to relieve myself of the emotions I didn't want him to see.

ml: As a result of all you've been through, I'm sure this has made you all the more determined to raise your son to be respectful of women!

DL: All my life, I've been dealing with sexual harassment and discrimination in many different ways. It comes to a point where enough is enough. You just want to come to work happy, do your job and go home and be happy with your child. I talk to my son like he's an adult, and explain how he needs to treat women when he grows up. The same way he wants Mommy to be happy -- that's the same way he needs to treat women when he grows up. I always say he's going to be a gentleman like my grandfather, like when men used to court women. In this day and age, men are back into the cave ages. They want to grab you and drag you. There's not that respect towards women anymore. They just shout at you from the street, and when you ignore them, they challenge you using nasty words.

ml: What do you hope will come from all this -- aside from winning your lawsuit?

DL: I hope to teach [Citibank] a lesson and basically help all those single mothers out there who have been harassed. Because you're single and there's only one family income, sometimes you have to put up with all types of discrimination and harassment at work. And we just stay quiet because at the end of the day, we need to feed our children. It's so hard for us. Sometimes we overlook and let things pass that aren't right, and I just want to tell the single moms to get up and stand up! At the end of the day, we have to deal with so much -- the day-to-day issues with work and at home; being two parents at once. It's really hard. Just because we're single moms doesn't mean we have to look to the side and ignore things like this.

next: Did the MTV Movie Awards Have to Drop the F-Bomb So Much?
56 comments so far | Post a comment now
Anon June 7, 2010, 3:35 PM

Debrahlee: You’re NOT that hot!

Danielle June 7, 2010, 4:32 PM

shut up Anon. Your SO weird. It has nothing to do with how hot. It just goes to show men and women should not work together in a professional place. MEN get distracted, they can’t help themselves. IT’s not rocket science!!

XXXX June 7, 2010, 6:05 PM

shut up danielle!

Rita June 7, 2010, 7:58 PM

She’s gorgeous. If men are professionals, they can look past her beauty and treat her like a human being. She’s right though, some men can be pigs. It’s really sad.

michelle June 8, 2010, 8:36 AM

We don’t know enough about this case to really judge. I am a very attractive woman with the hourglass figure thing going on. I also have an Ivy League degree, a top-3 MBA and a powerful track record. I can say from experience that it’s tougher for attractive women to be taken seriously, but it is still possible. When I was more junior I was told some pretty outrageous things by male colleagues, such as “you only got this promotion because you’re sleeping with the boss,” etc. I also was once blatantly hit on by a higher-up in front of colleagues (despite my discussing only business matters and my making it very clear that these advances were not appropriate). In sum, it’s harder to be treated like a human being. Somehow it’s the woman’s responsibility to make sure no man ever feels uncomfortable or has a sexy thought — but it’s just too much to ask men to step up and treat women like people. And it’s also the woman’s job to toe that arbitrary and ever-shifting line between looking attractive but not too attractive — wtf?? And with other women, it’s our job to always be appropriately self-deprecating, never too self-confident — also wtf?? Still, it’s worth noting that I got in the door at these places on the strength of my resume and I did well in interviews by knocking some very tough questions out of the park. Once there, I tried to counteract the negativity by focusing relentlessly on delivering good results, by stepping up to help others in ways everyone could see, by not ever discussing my personal life, and frankly by being very assertive in general — so that everyone knew I was a serious person and that any mistreatment would be fairly documented. But at the end of the day, let’s not kid ourselves, I think it was my more executive-level position that insulated me from Lorenzana’s fate. These dbags fired her because they thought she wasn’t savvy or smart enough to do anything about it. As if their being “distracted” is somehow her problem! But on the other hand, there are plenty of very attractive women in NY bank branches, so you do have to wonder if there was some performance issue with her. We just don’t know.

Lisa R. June 10, 2010, 6:25 AM

This is ridiculous! I don’t know all the details—and I’m sure somehow it will end up being her fault for being attractive, more discrimination—but no one, woman or man, should have to endure harrassment just for looking good. We’re bombarded every single day with images & information telling us to eat right, exercise, lose weight, be thinner, have plastic surgery (there are commercials on TV saying you have plastic surgery over your lunch hour, for God’s sake!), and then when a woman does take care of herself, dresses well, does her hair, has a nice figure, suddenly she’s a threat & a “distraction” to men in the workplace? WTF is that? Are we cave people?? It’s 2010, people! Get a clue! Women are educated, smart, capable. We can dress beautifully & ALSO make smart correct decisions. We are people, not pieces of meat or things that men own. This is just so stupid I can’t even believe it’s a lawsuit in the middle of 2010.

As for “Anon” and “XXXX” above (who I am sure are the same person): Get off this site. You have absolutely nothing of value to say. MomLogic, you should remove comments like that. They serve no purpose.

asd June 10, 2010, 8:36 PM


asd June 10, 2010, 8:37 PM


131 June 10, 2010, 8:37 PM


singlemommy25 June 12, 2010, 9:52 AM

I too was surprised when I heard about this… I was Team Deb all the way, until I read this

Mark June 13, 2010, 4:53 PM

Hahaha…First of all, she is not that hot. I’ve seen MUCH hotter. Heck, walking in New York City, where this woman is from, you see women hotter than her on every block.

To me this smells like a woman who wants to get $$ by filing a frivolous lawsuit, from Citi, a deep-pocket.

Michelle, your post was somewhat funny, also. “Poor” hot women - yes, I know just how AWFUL it is when members of the opposite sex flirt and show interest in you. Come on. Since when has it become a crime for a man to hit on a woman? A man shows interest, you say forget it, he moves on; case closed.

And-as if women never use their looks to get what they want from men? They do this ALL THE TIME. This case is another example of that.

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