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updated 11/15/2010 2:31:44 PM ET 2010-11-15T19:31:44

A Florida woman who says she was told that other managers found her large breasts "too distracting" has filed a gender discrimination suit against the company, claiming she was fired abruptly after nearly 15 years of loyal service because she complained.

"I would use a side door to enter and exit and hide from those managers because I did not want to be subjected to more humiliation," Amy-Erin Blakely, 43, said through her attorney. "No woman should ever be subjected to such sexist and derogatory remarks."

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Blakely claims in a lawsuit filed in state court last week that she was terminated Oct. 28, the day after she filed her second internal grievance with her superiors at The Devereux Foundation, a national nonprofit agency that helps children in foster care. Last week, she sued the foundation for an unspecified amount of money, alleging her civil rights were violated and that she was retaliated against because she sought help from her bosses.

According to one of her lawyers, well-known labor attorney Gloria Allred, Blakely holds a master's degree in business administration and rose through the ranks of The Devereux Foundation on her own merit. In 2003, however, a promotion to assistant executive director brought her into regular contact with the senior managers she now says made a big deal about her big chest.

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"You have very large breasts, so does my wife, and I have talked to her about you and your breasts," one manager allegedly told Blakely, according to the civil complaint filed in Orlando. "You should wear loose-fitting clothes or try to hide your breasts because they are too distracting."

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Blakely said she was disheartened to hear that she'd never be promoted to executive director because she was just "too sensual" for the high-profile position.

"I am a highly competent professional woman and I asked only to be judged on my merit," she said in a statement. "Instead, I seemed to be judged on my looks and the size of my breasts."

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In its own statement, the foundation accused Blakely of twisting the facts.

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"We carefully investigated and concluded her claims are entirely without merit. They are either spurious or twisted in content and context to be deliberately inflammatory. We did not terminate her for the reasons she claims in her suit and she was not discriminated against. We plan to vigorously defend against her complaints," the foundation said.

 

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