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Woman says she was fired over 'large breasts'

November 10, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
A woman executive is suing her former employer for gender discrimination, claiming she was told to hide her large breasts because they were distracting to other employees.The former executive said she endured six years of harassing remarks about the size of her breasts, so she filed two internal grievances with the company but instead of receiving help, she was terminated the next day.

"No woman should ever be subjected to such sexist and derogatory remarks," said Amy-Erin Blakely.

Blakely said she's a victim of discrimination in the workplace. The 43-year-old former assistant executive director said she was told other employees were distracted by the size of her breasts and that she was too sensual for further promotion.

"It was really a nightmare, because every day I had great trepidation and fear that I was going to either be humiliated, harassed or lose my job because of the way I looked, not based on my performance at all. My performance was exemplary," said Blakely.

Blakely hired attorney Gloria Allred and has filed a lawsuit against her former employer, the Devereux Foundation, the country's largest not-for-profit provider of children's mental health services.

The Florida resident worked for Devereux for about 13 years and said she was promoted more than a dozen times, but she said the remarks began in 2003 when she was promoted to assistant executive director of operations at the Florida office.

"I filed two grievances--one in the spring of 2009 and then one in the fall of 2009. The first one was inappropriately investigated and I was reprimanded for that. The second grievance was followed by me being terminated the next morning," said Blakely.

Blakely's suit is similar to one filed earlier this year by Citibank employee Debrahlee Lorenzana. The 33-year-old banker also alleged she was told her looks were too distracting to male coworkers.

In Blakely's case, the Devereux Foundation released this statement:

"We have not received the formal complaint, which has apparently just been filed with the court today. Ms. Allred has, however, shared details of the allegations and we can tell you that they are purposefully inflammatory, and either spurious or twisted in content and context. In no way do these allegations represent the truth about our organization or our staff, but here is what does...We have a deep and abiding respect for women in our organization, as evidenced by the fact that more than 50 percent of our senior leadership team is female."

Blakely's lawsuit is seeking compensatory and punitive damages as well as the cost of her attorney's fees.

The Devereux Foundation is based out of Pennsylvania but has offices in Santa Barbara.


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