A New Jersey woman says she was fired from her job after her manager told her to “tape her breasts” down, and now has filed suit against the company claiming religious and sexual discrimination. Former data entry worker Lauren Odes said that after two days with Native Intimates, a midtown Manhattan wholesale lingerie company, a supervisor told her the store owners were not happy with her outfit, suggesting it was too “distracting.”
“When I first started working there, I asked what the dress code was, and I was just told to look around and see what everyone else was wearing,” Odes said in a press conference Monday. “So I did. The dress was very casual athletic wear to business attire.”
Odes said the company owners are Orthodox Jews who were offended by her attire.
At a news conference announcing the suit, she said that at first she compromised, saying she’d wear a gray T-shirt and black jeggings with rain boots to work, but that wasn’t enough.
“When my supervisors suggested that I tape down my breasts, I asked ‘Are you kidding me?’” Odes said. “The supervisor said, ‘Just cover up a little more.’”
The female supervisor then walked over to a closet, pulled out a bright red bathrobe decorated with pictures of guitars, and told Odes to put it on, she said.
“She told me to sit at my desk and wear it all day. I felt completely humiliated,” Odes said. “She put the bathrobe on me and tied the belt and I returned to my desk wearing it.”
Her supervisor then gave her the option of to go out and buy a sweater that “went to her ankles” instead of wearing the bathrobe, she said. After being ridiculed and made fun of by co-workers, Odes said, she obliged.
“I sat in the bathroom for a while crying. I’d prefer to go out and buy a sweater rather than sit there in the bathrobe feeling humiliated,” Odes said.
But while she was out shopping for the sweater, the 29-year-old got a phone call saying she’d been terminated, she said.
Now, attorney Gloria Allred has filed suit against Native Intimates with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
“The treatment was discriminatory, profoundly humiliating and unlawful,” Allred said.
This isn’t the first time Allred has represented a client for allegedly being fired for what she was wearing.
Two years ago, she represented Debrahlee Lorenzana, a Queens, N.Y., woman who sued former bosses Citibank forbanning her “sexy outfits and heels.” Citibank ended up settling with Lorenzana.
Odes, who said she is also Jewish, said no employer has the right to impose their religious beliefs on employees.
“I do not feel an employer has the right to impose their religious beliefs on me when I’m working in a business that’s not a synagogue, but sells things with hearts on the female genitals and boy shorts for women that say hot in the buttocks area,” she said.