Debrahlee Lorenzana’s Outfits Were Too Hot for Citibank, but Pics Suggest Otherwise

Citibank seems to be fighting tooth and nail for the title of most ridiculously conservative bank. A few months ago, Citibank closed the account of an entrepreneur when they deemed his gay travel website “objectionable,” based on the blog (which had no nudity or other content that might be considered adult).

Now, Debrahlee Lorenzana – a former employee at a midtown Manhattan branch of the bank, is suing Citibank claiming that she was fired for outfits deemed too sexy by Citibank. {Village Voice} Particularly in a an office with a conservative dress code – and a bank could certainly be one of those offices, there’s a fine line between fashion and an apparel faux pas. Want to go without stockings? It might work for the First Lady, but in some offices it would be considered inappropriate. Own any V-neck tops? Make sure they aren’t cut low enough to show cleavage. Want to show off those new heels? If they’re over 3″ save them for after work drinks.

While Ally McBeal gave us lawyers advocating in mini-skirts, the reality of corporate dress codes is that they often leave little room for experimentation. While prim cuts and buttoned up necklines will come back strong this fall in Prada and Marc Jacobs stores, not all designers offer collections with the corporate workplace in mind. So it’s understandable that someone trying to stay current with fashion trends might slip up on occasion when the worlds of fashion and finance don’t smoothly overlap.

But if photos taken by Lorenzana’s attorney are any indication, that doesn’t seem to be what happened. Click the thumbnails for additional photos of Lorenzana’s workplace attire including the pencil skirts and turtlenecks she was asked not to wear.

One photo shows Lorenzana in a jacket and pencil skirt, with open toe shoes. Perhaps the open toe shoes could be questioned, but the skirt is below the knee, and fitted – but not excessively tight. A wrap dress, which falls at the knee, has a V-neck which isn’t low enough to show cleavage. Then there’s the turtleneck ensemble, which does highlight Lorenzana’s enviable curves, but actually shows no flesh.

For their part, Citibank claims appearance had nothing to do with why Lorenzana was fired.

Ms. Lorenzana has chosen to make numerous unfounded accusations and inaccurate statements against Citibank and several of our employees. 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.


Beyond Lorenzana’s claims of harassment over her workwear choices though, which were documented in complaints to Human Resources and other Citibank managers, there’s a reprimand for Lorenzana for bringing in too little business and being late two days. The problem? The two days were a Saturday and Sunday when the bank was closed. {Village Voice} A few months after being transferred to a new branch for a telemarketing position – as opposed to the business banker role she’d previously held, she was fired. The manager mentioned the previous complaints about her clothing, and said she wasn’t fit for the Citibank corporate culture.

While Lorenzana’s case may be the latest to grab headlines, it raises interesting questions about what attire is safe for work. Citibank’s policy, while prohibiting clothing that is considered provocative, fails to define what provocative or inappropriate items are, and gives managers a large degree of latitude in making those decisions. But when it comes to someone’s job, how much fashion criticism is too much?

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