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Thread: Iowa Court: Bosses Can Fire 'Irresistible' Workers

  1. #1
    Silver Member GawsipRawksz's Avatar
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    Oct 2005

    Default Iowa Court: Bosses Can Fire 'Irresistible' Workers

    A dentist acted legally when he fired an assistant that he found attractive simply because he and his wife viewed the woman as a threat to their marriage, the all-male Iowa Supreme Court ruled Friday.The court ruled 7-0 that bosses can fire employees they see as an "irresistible attraction," even if the employees have not engaged in flirtatious behavior or otherwise done anything wrong. Such firings may be unfair, but they are not unlawful discrimination under the Iowa Civil Rights Act because they are motivated by feelings and emotions, not gender, Justice Edward Mansfield wrote.
    An attorney for Fort Dodge dentist James Knight said the decision, the first of its kind in Iowa, is a victory for family values because Knight fired Melissa Nelson in the interest of saving his marriage, not because she was a woman.
    But Nelson's attorney said Iowa's all-male high court, one of only a handful in the nation, failed to recognize the discrimination that women see routinely in the workplace.
    "These judges sent a message to Iowa women that they don't think men can be held responsible for their sexual desires and that Iowa women are the ones who have to monitor and control their bosses' sexual desires," said attorney Paige Fiedler. "If they get out of hand, then the women can be legally fired for it."
    Nelson, 32, worked for Knight for 10 years, and he considered her a stellar worker. But in the final months of her employment, he complained that her tight clothing was distracting, once telling her that if his pants were bulging that was a sign her clothes were too revealing, according to the opinion.
    He also once allegedly remarked about her infrequent sex life by saying, "that's like having a Lamborghini in the garage and never driving it."
    Knight and Nelson — both married with children — started exchanging text messages, mostly about personal matters, such as their families. Knight's wife, who also worked in the dental office, found out about the messages and demanded Nelson be fired. The Knights consulted with their pastor, who agreed that terminating Nelson was appropriate.
    Knight fired Nelson and gave her one month's severance. He later told Nelson's husband that he worried he was getting too personally attached and feared he would eventually try to start an affair with her.
    Nelson was stunned because she viewed the 53-year-old Knight as a father figure and had never been interested in starting a relationship, Fiedler said.
    Nelson filed a lawsuit alleging gender discrimination, arguing she would not have been terminated if she was male. She did not allege sexual harassment because Knight's conduct may not have risen to that level and didn't particularly offend her, Fiedler said.
    Knight argued Nelson was fired not because of her gender, but because her continued employment threatened his marriage. A district judge agreed, dismissing the case before trial, and the high court upheld that ruling.
    Mansfield noted that Knight had an all-female workforce and Nelson was replaced by a woman.
    He said the decision was in line with state and federal court rulings that found workers can be fired for relationships that cause jealousy and tension within a business owner's family. One such case from the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a business owner's firing of a valued employee who was seen by his wife as a threat to their marriage. In that case, the fired employee had engaged in flirtatious conduct.
    Mansfield said allowing Nelson's lawsuit would stretch the definition of discrimination to allow anyone fired over a relationship to file a claim arguing they would not have been fired but for their gender.Knight's attorney, Stuart Cochrane, said the court got it right. The decision clarified that bosses can make decisions showing favoritism to a family member without committing discrimination; in this case, by allowing Knight to honor his wife's wishes to fire Nelson, he said.
    Knight is a very religious and moral individual, and he sincerely believed that firing Nelson would be best for all parties, he said.
    "While there was really no fault on the part of Mrs. Nelson, it was just as clear the decision to terminate her was not related to the fact that she was a woman," he said. "The motives behind Dr. Knight terminating Mrs. Nelson were quite clear: He did so to preserve his marriage.
    "I don't view this as a decision that was either pro-women or opposed to women rights at all. In my view, this was a decision that followed the appropriate case law."
    Source: Iowa Court: Bosses Can Fire 'Irresistible' Workers - ABC News

  2. #2
    Elite Member Brookie's Avatar
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    I'd be in serious trouble in Iowa then.
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    This is an Onion article, right? Please tell me this is an Onion article, because if it isn't, I weep for humanity that these 7 morons occupy a place on the Iowa Supreme Court. So because this dickhead was struggling to control his sexual urges, his assistant should be fired? Holy crap.

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    Elite Member KrisNine's Avatar
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    I saw this on CNN. Sadly, it's not The Onion.

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    Elite Member greysfang's Avatar
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    So let me get this shit straight, she was fired because some old perv was attracted to her? OMFG.
    FUCK YOU AND GIVE ME MY GODDAMN VENTI TWO PUMP LIGHT WHIP MOCHA YOU COCKSUCKING WHORE BEFORE I PUNCH YOU IN THE MOUTH. I just get unpleasant in my car. - Deej Healthy is merely the slowest possible rate at which one can die.

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    Elite Member Seapharris7's Avatar
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    The reason it's news is because it is RIDICULOUS. I hope there is some sort of reversal or $$ for the woman due to the public backlash over this idiocy
    Sugar... The real gateway drug

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    Elite Member witchcurlgirl's Avatar
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    this is the logical end result of the myth of the uncontrollable boner.
    Last edited by witchcurlgirl; December 26th, 2012 at 10:25 AM.
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    Elite Member ConstanceSpry's Avatar
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    But in the final months of her employment, he complained that her tight clothing was distracting, once telling her that if his pants were bulging that was a sign her clothes were too revealing, according to the opinion.
    Disgusting PIG!!
    'I had to get rid of the kid. The cat was allergic.'

  9. #9
    Elite Member NickiDrea's Avatar
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    May 2008


    Actually I partially agree with the court. If you haven't actually read the opinion, you should. She technically wasn't fired because she was attractive. She was fired because his wife threatened to divorce him because she thought they were having an affair. He agreed to fire her to save his marriage. Employment is an at-will in the majority of states. As long as she wasn't being fired due to her gender, it wasn't an illegal termination. Fact is, if she was unattractive his wife wouldn't have cared and she'd probably still have a job. Not her fault but also not gender discrimination.

    The part I disagree with is the comment about his pants bulging. That is sexual harassment period and she should have won at least on that issue. That's a strong hostile work environment claim IMO.

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