Take it from me, being amazingly good looking has its downside.
Especially in Iowa, where a court has ruled an employer can legally fire anyone he (or she) is sexually attracted to.
Room for abuse? Sure.
Instead of firing an employee for a valid (incompetence, not rooting for the Braves, etc.) or invalid (race, political thought processes, etc.) reason an employer could simply say his marriage was threatened by an overload of work sexy.
It is hard to imagine a corn-fed dental assistant being so hot a mature dentist couldn’t crown his carnal proclivities, but that seems to be the case with Melissa Nelson, who was 33 when Fort Dodge, Iowa, dentist James Knight, 53, gave her the boot.
Nelson, a married mother of two who had worked 10 years for Knight, was considered his best assistant.
Sometime in 2009 she began exchanging text messages with him. During one exchange, he asked her how often she had an orgasm. She never answered that text, but did respond to others that trended towards saucy.
Later, the dentist’s wife found the text messages and demanded Nelson be fired because “she was a big threat.”
The Knights had their pastor, who agreed with the plan, attend Nelson’s firing.
Nelson sued, saying she would not have been terminated but for her gender.
Knight argued all of his employees are women and she was fired because she posed a threat to his marriage. He replaced Nelson with another woman, who must know that he thinks she is pretty ugly.
The first case made its way to the Iowa Supreme Court, where, in December of 2012, all seven of the male justices ruled unanimously against Nelson. After much public criticism, the court withdrew its opinion.
Nelson’s attorney asked the court to reconsider, saying the ruling was a blow to gender equality. (The attorney must assume men cannot be ‘big threats’ to marriage.)
Once again, the court ruled it is legal to fire an employee that makes the eyes wander.
Chief Justice Mark Cady explained the court’s rationale: “Nelson was terminated because of the activities of her consensual personal relationship with her employer, not because of her gender.”
Cady also said Nelson’s relationship with Knight went beyond the “reasonable parameters of workplace interaction.”
After the Friday ruling, Nelson’s lawyer, Paige Fiedler, said, “Melissa’s life will never be the same after this experience: She has lost her profession and endured great emotional distress— all because her boss didn’t think he would be able to control himself,” Fiedler said. “While Melissa is sad for herself and her family, she is even more upset at the way this decision will affect the rights of countless Iowa women to participate in the workplace on a fair and equal footing with men.”