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Dental Assistant Fired for Being 'Irresistibly Attractive' & Court Says It's OK

by Julie Ryan Evans on December 23, 2012 at 2:06 PM

Melissa NelsonLet's see, you can't be fired for your race, or your gender, or your age, but doggonit, if you make your boss all hot and bothered, then you can be axed, no problem. Unbelievable, but sadly true, as shown by the recent case of dental assistant Melissa Nelson, 32, who was fired by her boss Dr. James Knight, 53, for being "irresistibly attractive." Seriously.

Even crazier -- the Iowa Supreme Court ruled that it was okay because she was a threat to Knight's marriage -- not because of her behavior but because of her looks. Oh, and by the way, the court was made up of seven men. 

Outrageous, right? The details of the case are even more so.

When I first read the headlines I honestly expected there to be more to this story. Maybe something like she was making patients uncomfortable, or she was acting inappropriately, or something that would make sense. Because I do believe employers need to be able to make decisions regarding their employees that are best for their business. But honestly the reports just sound like she was a nice looking woman trying to do her job, and the dentist simply couldn't control his horndog ways. Legal or not (the court says she wasn't fired for her gender because it was based on Knight's "feelings"), it seems all kinds of wrong.

According to CNN, Nelson had been working for him for more than 10 years and was an outstanding employee. While he says that her clothing was tight, she claims she wore scrubs. He once reportedly told her that "if she saw his pants bulging, she would know her clothing was too revealing." Ewww, and perhaps a sexual harassment suit would have been more effective?

Both are married with children, and apparently sent text messages back and forth about non-work matters, but nothing scandalous. Knight's wife reportedly got wind of them though and didn't like them one bit. Shortly after that Nelson, who says she saw Knight as a father figure, was fired and given just one month's severance pay. He says she threatened his marriage, and was afraid it could lead to an affair. So never mind the fact that she was a good employee for a decade, or that he could just try to muster up a little self control, he just canned her.

Nelson's attorney, Page Fiedler, told the Associated Press:

These judges sent a message to Iowa women that they don’t think men can be held responsible for their sexual desires. If (the bosses) get out of hand, then the women can be legally fired for it.

Can you imagine if someone was fired for being too ugly? If the dentist had said, "sorry, looking at you all day repulses me"? There would be all sorts of outrage. But being too pretty is apparently your own problem. I truly can't believe in this day and age this happened, but it did. Beware, pretty ladies, I guess.

 

Do you think employers should be able to fire people because they're too attractive?

 

Image via CNN

Filed Under: in the news, discrimination

Comments

61
  • Autum...
    --

    Autumnleaves87

    December 23, 2012 at 2:13 PM
    Sounds like old man knight needs to get his "bulge" under control and stop blaming the women he works with.

    What a sexist piece of shit.
  • Scott...
    -- Facebook comment from

    Scott Davis

    December 23, 2012 at 2:23 PM

    I bet you it was the wife that made him fire her. I have a wife like that...


  • bills...
    --

    billsfan1104

    December 23, 2012 at 2:52 PM
    It seems to me that the wife was jealous and told him to fire her.
  • Pinkmani
    --

    Pinkmani

    December 23, 2012 at 3:10 PM

    I mean, she is pretty. I hope she finds a better job that pays more, has great benefits, and is flexible soon. Jealous wife? I think so.


  • teach
    -- Nonmember comment from

    teach

    December 23, 2012 at 3:23 PM
    Either he fired her because he could not control himself or because his wife feared he could not. Either way he lacks the ability to take control of his own actions and body. He blames the coworker for being too attractive and the wife for asking him to do it (he even brings his pastor into it), but never blames himself-he is pathetic.
  • Cassa...
    -- Facebook comment from

    Cassandra Huber

    December 23, 2012 at 3:35 PM

    He needs to get over it....that is sexual harassment that she could try to get some compensation for. Men get boners all the time randomly, and do you think us women actually give a darn? Especially if we are married? If I was that chick, working with that asshole would have ended with the first comment, as I would have been in jail for battery. He doesn't deserve to be married if he is going to act like that...and he doesn't deserve his male appendage either. I vote for castration of all male pigs like him. The wife had a right to be livid, as I would too if my husband was acting like that, but I would NOT make my husband fire an employee over it, I'd just file divorce.


  • krelia
    -- Nonmember comment from

    krelia

    December 23, 2012 at 3:57 PM
    @cassandra, And what form of sterilization would you recommend for the cheating wives? Sounds like you have some man issues you need to work out
  • RMT1995
    --

    RMT1995

    December 23, 2012 at 4:02 PM
    I hope she appeals.
  • Sherry
    -- Nonmember comment from

    Sherry

    December 23, 2012 at 4:10 PM
    It takes a courageous man to put his wife ahead of his job, but a wise one too. Since when is a person not allowed to get rid of an assistant with whom he works closely, but is not comfortable with? If he were working at a minimum-wage job, he could simply change jobs. Since he's the boss, then it makes sense that she is the one who needs to change jobs! That doesn't mean she did anything wrong, but it does mean that sometimes two people can't work together, and he made the best decision for his family.
  • Bcollins
    -- Nonmember comment from

    Bcollins

    December 23, 2012 at 4:25 PM
    So if he had attacked her it would it have been her fault i guess cuz shes pretty. What a bunch of idiots
1-10 of 61 comments

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