You're Too Beautiful For This Job

by Vault Careers | June 10, 2010

My worst nightmares were fully realized last week: I can be fired for being too beautiful! I am referring to recent news, which uncovered the fact that Citigroup does not hire its staff from BeautifulJobSeekers.com. In fact, the banking giant frowns on beauty in the workplace -- at least according to Debrahlee Lorenzana, who filed a lawsuit against Citigroup with claims she was fired from one of their branches for looking too sexy.

Lorenzana, who now works for Chase after being fired by Citigroup, says her pencil skirts, turtlenecks, tailored jackets and stilettos were too distracting to male co-workers who couldn’t take their eyes off her body. According to the lawsuit, the “Plaintiff was advised that as a result of the shape of her figure, such clothes were purportedly `too distracting’ for her male colleagues and supervisors to bear.”

Pointing to others who wore similar clothes or dressed too provocatively, according to the lawsuit, Lorenzana was told that her colleagues could wear whatever they wanted, because their “general unattractiveness rendered moot their sartorial choices.”

Whether these statements are true will be proven in court, but the recent firing seems quite ironic considering a recent New York Times Op-Ed Piece that featured this little nugget - A 2005 analysis by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis showed that good-looking people and tall people get a “beauty premium” — an extra 5 percent an hour — while there is a “plainness penalty” of 9 percent in wages.

Lorenzana’s lawsuit aside, there seems to be a premium on beauty in certain jobs resulting in the creation of beautifuljobseekers.com, which only allows members to post resumes if they are deemed one of the “beautiful people,” by users of the niche job board. The idea of BeautifulJobSeekers.com was questioned in one blog I wrote, but defended by a user of the site in another Vault blog highlighting the virtues of taking advantage of one’s assets to get ahead in this tough economy.

There is always at least one “it” person in a workplace that seems to get the attention of others more than their counterparts do. It’s human nature to gravitate toward attractive people. But there are two things that can be done to curtail this behavior.

Companies should put into writing strict guidelines for how their employees should act at work, from their professionalism to what constitutes as sexual harassment, and everything in between. Unacceptable behavior includes ogling and objectifying people, regardless of whether they invite it or not. (Side question: is undergoing enhancement surgery--as Lorenzana may have done--the same as "inviting" attention?) A good company knows how to get the most out of their workers and no distractions should prevent anyone from doing their job.

Second, it’s time for adults to start acting like adults. We are not in high school trying to chase the cheerleading captain. Our main goals should be to advance our careers and create a future for ourselves. The new girl may look good on your arm, but she won’t stay there if you are living in a one bedroom shack with no heat, hot water or electricity, because you can’t keep your libido out of the workplace.

My verdict – if someone acts professionally by doing their job and meets or exceeds their company’s work expectations, it shouldn’t matter whether they are too sexy or too ugly. Fire those who are easily distracted. Hire those who know how to act professionally in the workplace. Wouldn’t you agree?

--Posted by Jon Minners, Vault.com

Filed Under: Job Search


The curious case of the disappearing libel suit You're Too Beautiful For This Job

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