Twenty-nine-year-old Lauren Odes was recently fired from her job as an office assistant at a Manhattan-based lingerie wholesaler called Native Intimates supposedly because she wore inappropriate clothing to the office. She now claims her employers told her she was “too hot” for the workplace and is filing a discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. At a news conference yesterday, Odes said her female supervisor suggested that she tape down her breasts and, at one point, gave her a red bathrobe to wear over her clothes. Her case has been taken on by Gloria Allred, a high-profile attorney known for her work with women’s rights.
After Odes spoke at yesterday’s news conference, Allred added:
The company’s treatment of Ms. Odes was particularly ironic considering that it sells women’s undergarments and keeps a showroom with bras, lingerie and other intimate clothing … No woman should be told that her breasts are too large, her body too appealing and her appearance too attractive for the male leadership of that company.
Odes’s complaint cites both gender and religious discrimination, since many of her superiors were Orthodox Jewish (Odes is also Jewish, but not Orthodox). Allred explains:
Her supervisors warned that the company’s Orthodox Jewish owners saw what she was wearing and disapproved … She was told she was drawing attention from others and she should not wear the outfit for her own safety. She was told by supervisors, “You are just too hot for this office.”
Odes also said that she asked about an office dress code, but none was ever specified to her (besides the bathrobe, that is). Native Intimates hasn’t commented on the complaint yet, but an unnamed male employee told the Post, “The women here, they dress nicely but covered up. Most are Orthodox. There are a lot of married men here, and it’s not OK to have a woman dress like that.”
Regardless of what really happened, it seems like everything could have been solved with a simple dress code, no?