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IA Supreme Court: Workers can be fired if boss considers them “irresistible attraction”


This news story was published on December 22, 2012.
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Iowa Supreme Court

DES MOINES – The Iowa Supreme court ruled on Friday that a male dentist was not at fault for firing a woman that was too attractive and a possible threat to the man’s marriage.

In reaching its decision, the court considered the question: “Can a male employer terminate a female employee because the employer’s wife, due to no fault of the employee, is concerned about the nature of the relationship between the employer and the employee?”

Put another way, the court considered “whether an employee who has not engaged in flirtatious conduct may be lawfully terminated simply because the boss views the employee as an irresistible attraction.”

The court threw out a discrimination lawsuit filed by Melissa Nelson, who worked for James Knight, DDS, of Fort Dodge.

The court brief indicated that “During the last six months or so of Nelson’s employment, Dr. Knight and Nelson started texting each other on both work and personal matters outside the workplace. Neither objected to the other’s texting. Both Dr. Knight and Nelson have children, and some of the texts involved updates on the kids’ activities and other relatively innocuous matters. Nelson considered Dr. Knight to be a friend and father figure, and she denies that she ever flirted with him or sought an intimate or sexual relationship with him.”

Later, after finding out about the texting, Dr. Knight’s wife “demanded that he terminate Nelson’s employment.”

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11 Responses to IA Supreme Court: Workers can be fired if boss considers them “irresistible attraction”

  1. Avatar

    LVS Reply Report comment

    December 24, 2012 at 8:39 am

    I believe that under Iowa law you can fire anyone at any time. You do not even need to tell them a reason. All you have to do is pay unemployment or severence pay if that is in your company policy. Not saying that is fair, just saying it is the law. If you don’t like the law, change it if you have eneough support.

  2. Avatar

    Anonymous Reply Report comment

    December 23, 2012 at 5:27 pm

    Have a dress code for all employees and move on.

  3. Avatar

    fancyfree15 Reply Report comment

    December 22, 2012 at 5:56 pm

    I guess there’s hope for us ugly women yet! We can get hired to take the place of the pretty women who were fired!
    No, really, I’d say there is much more to this story. Otherwise, the court’s ruling just doesn’t make sense.
    The stories reported in media are never the whole story. I know that because I’ve worked in law enforcement and EMS. I’ve been there – but there are always facts left unreported for a number of reasons – lack of space, incomplete reporting, information not released by authorities, etc. Many times, it would take a book to tell the whole story!

    • Avatar

      a citizen Reply Report comment

      December 23, 2012 at 2:46 pm

      “And the truth shall set us free.” That is, if we are ever told the truth, and then it being the real truth, rather than someone’s conception of it. I’ll stop now, thank you.

  4. Avatar

    Katie Reply Report comment

    December 22, 2012 at 11:45 am

    I’ll bet there’s more to this story than either party wanted to come out. I read elsewhere that she had worked there 10 years and the texting only began in the last 6 months. That signaled a change in their relationship to the wife. She also worked in the office and likely saw other changes in their interactions, whether the employee thought she was flirting or not. Body language says a lot. Coworkers don’t miss those things, either, and they love to gossip within offices. Employees need to keep it professional with their bosses and vice versa.

  5. Avatar

    JB Johnson Reply Report comment

    December 22, 2012 at 11:16 am

    I have the same problem. My good looks get me in trouble all the time.

    Hey the guy signs the front of the check. If you don’t like the way he runs his business don’t got there. Does he come to your place of work and tell you how to run the place?

  6. Avatar

    happyguy Reply Report comment

    December 22, 2012 at 11:06 am

    that is what a right to work state is all about. You are employed or fired at the bosses will. And yes it is BULL PUCKEY!!!!!!!!!!

  7. Avatar

    J SChade Reply Report comment

    December 22, 2012 at 10:27 am

    That is BULL PUCKEY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!