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.)
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.