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How the Standards of Dress Have Changed in the Workplace

The seemingly straightforward issue of work dress is a controversial topic that has garnered mass media attention, led to countless lawsuits and divided the sexes on debates about gender discrimination. Earlier today Spark News discussed how important your work appearance is. What if you are being criticized at work for being too attractive though? Let’s take a look at how others have dealt with these issues in the past.

The Case of Lauren Odes
On May 22, The Huffington Post reported on the 2012 trial of Lauren Odes. Allegedly she is the latest victim of occupational sexism related to her clothing. In the Odes case, her employers, Native Intimates, a wholesale lingerie chain owned and operated by a group of Orthodox Jews, complained of her office wardrobe and subjected her to numerous humiliating confrontations regarding her attire before firing her. This large-bosomed blonde was told to tape down her breasts to make them look smaller and was forced to wear a red bathrobe over her clothing.

The Case of Debrahlee Lorenzana
In 2010, both The Village Voice and CBS News reported on the Debrahlee Lorenzana trial. In this lawsuit former Citibank employee Lorenzana alleged that the NY-based company fired her for dressing too provocatively. Her clothing choice distracted her male colleagues and supervisors making it difficult for them to get their work done.

The DL&G blog, a daily correspondence that features advice from New Hampshire attorneys who specialize in discrimination cases and personal injury claims, reported that one of Lorenzana’s female acquaintances found merit in her friend’s case. “I’ve seen men turn into complete idiots around her. But it’s not her fault that they act this way, and it shouldn’t be her problem,” the friend said.

Lorenzana also attested that her work attire mainly consisted of pencil skirts, turtlenecks with long sleeves and ankle-length trousers. However, her employer informed her that as a result of the shape of her figure such clothes were purportedly ‘too distracting’ to wear. She was later forbidden to wear fitted business suits. Lorenzana stated that other female employees wore more revealing clothes, but since they were not as physically attractive as she they were not criticized, ridiculed and censored.

In the court of public opinion it may seem as if Lorenza is an innocent victim whose rights were infringed upon. However, news outlets such as The Daily News and Dealbreaker subsequently disclosed that Lorenzana appeared in a Discovery Health Channel series in 2006 called “Plastic Surgery New York Style.”

In a Dealbreaker interview conducted by Bess Levin, investigative work revealed that by the age of 26, Lorenzana had undergone several elective procedures including: liposuction and two breast augmentations to enhance her natural, flat chest to a 32DD. Lorenzana’s look was intentional. She said she had the surgeries “in order to attract a professional, well-educated man.”

Tips for Success
Although personal style is respected on the job, it is important to know and adhere to the guidelines established by your employer. Dress codes, which should be administered uniformly, ensure that the work environment remains focused and productive. Similar to the trend in many schools today where all students wear uniforms, semi-conservative apparel on the job can lessen disruptions related to inappropriate behavior.

SOURCE: CBS News, DL&G Blog
IMAGE: Courtesy of CBS News

Adrienne Jones

Adrienne Jones has worked as a freelance author, ghost writer, copy editor and writing coach for several years. She is the author of “Rhymes of Death”—a mystery novel and “Bible Theories”—a critical synopsis of biblical text. Her work has been published in various print and online media sources. She specializes in movie reviews, feature articles and artist profiles.