Posted in: Opinion

Iowa Can Fire Irresistible Workers, Embarrassing Ruling Finds

iowa can fire irresistible workers

Bosses in Iowa can now “fire irresistible workers” legally, as we reported earlier, in a revealing ruling that legally codifies sex shaming as a career-jeopardizing thing about which we officially have to worry, now. Thanks, Iowa.

The all-male Iowa supreme court that decreed it was legally sound to fire “irresistible workers” did, of course, suggest there was no specific bias against women in their decision — after all, males can be considered threateningly attractive, too, right?

It should further be noted that in much of America you can be fired for any reason, particularly in right-to-work states where worker protections tend to be even weaker. So it would seem this legal acknowledgement of slut shaming is not one that allows a practice that previously didn’t happen to occur — it just throws legal weight behind the idea that it’s okay to speculate upon a woman’s moral character based upon the way she appears, to you.

The case at the heart of the Iowa decision to allow firing of “irresistible workers” is perhaps not surprisingly one fraught with “family values” and moral judgment, involving a dentist, 53, who admits openly that his 32-year-old assistant was exceedingly competent at her job — in fact, Melissa Nelson was the best dental assistant with whom he has ever worked, he says.

But James Knight, DDS’s wife did not like the fact that Nelson was attractive near her husband, and she was displeased to learn the pair shared platonic but unrelated to work text messages. Knight consulted with his pastor, and subsequently fired Nelson for reasons unrelated to her performance — simply because she was born looking a certain way and didn’t wear a burlap sack to work.

An Associated Press article about the case indicates that Knight worked with Nelson for ten years, but his increasing inability not to be a dirty old man began to strain the workplace. The newswire reports:

” … 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.'”

Dentist Revenge Story A Hoax

If you think for a minute such a situation “necessitating” a boss to fire an irresistible worker would occur with genders reversed, think again — the dated and harmful concept of temptation-bearing women “asking for it” by merit of being female and attractive is starkly in highlight here, and men are simply not held accountable for the feelings and attractions they provoke in women the same way.

What’s troubling about this case, of course, is not just that one Iowa woman lost her job unfairly or that these ideas are still so pervasive in 2012. The larger implications are chilling. Lawyer for Nelson, Paige Fielder, commented:

“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 … If they get out of hand, then the women can be legally fired for it.”

In Iowa, this week, not only was it decided that men are not responsible for their sexual impulses, but the women on whom they project these impulses are indeed at fault. What’s to say the next rape case in Iowa during which a perpetrator suggests a female victim’s apparent willingness to be raped won’t refer back to the recent ruling that Nelson was fired justly for her looks?

After all, if we can’t expect a dentist to control himself sexually in the workplace, how can we possibly hold men in bars, on dates and in dorms to adhere to the same standard? If Iowa’s ruling about firing “irresistible workers” is any legal benchmark, can we really?

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12 Responses to “Iowa Can Fire Irresistible Workers, Embarrassing Ruling Finds”

  1. Joe Wilson

    I think the judge in this case is a complete idiot. If the wife of the dentist is afraid that her husbands assistant.
    is so desireable that it can jeopadize the marriage then there's hidden trust issues. I don't know if the husband cheated before or not, but to be forced to fire someone due to your wife's insecurities suggests he had. Courts are getting involed in areas that they should stay out of.

  2. Paul Schnur

    The case was that the asst. claimed that she was fired because she was a women. That is not the case. She was fired because the boss wanted to fire her. There is no reason that one needs to fire a person. It is not illegal to fire anyone, unless you are punishing them or you are discriminating against them.

  3. Janet Lackey Brown

    Well, once again, this just shows that men are idiots, and wimps to allow their wives to rule the workplace. This woman wore scrubs to work (have you ever seen these ugly things)? If he is feeling guilty, that is his problem. It should not have affected her job, he should get counciling, more so his wife. Sounds like he is stepping out or has done so in the past and there is no trust here. It has set the work place back ions. My female manager has threatened that she can fire anyone without a reason, and has. What are people to do when they are at work everyday, giving 150%, NEVER GIVE any reason to cause a problem, and still get harassed? Something is wrong with this and I hope that this lady finds a better employer and can work to help keep a home for her family.

  4. Janet Lackey Brown

    It was out and out discrimination, she probably wouldn't give in to his advances. She needs to feed her children and have a home for them. SHAME on this man, and all who act and believe this way.

  5. Robert Rowley

    Let's see, Did the woman suddenly grow more attractive after she was hired or did the dentist hire her because he was turned on in the first place? If you hire someone because they are attractive rather than on their qualifications isn't that considered sexual harassment? If you fire someone because you or your wife consider them to attractive isn't that decision based on behavior that would be considered sexual harassment in the workplace? It all boils down to the fact that the wife or dentist felt that this man could not be trusted to keep a professional relationship with his employee because she was female and attractive. Apparently he was already fantasizing about her or his behavior toward this employee was causing issues in the mind of his wife. I would speak to a lawyer about filing harassment charges if I were this employee.

  6. Jacqueline Thoennes

    This is complete bullshit. The woman worked for the dentist for years and nothing happened. They texted, the wife found out and wanted her gone. Plain and simple. It is outright discrimination. I would sue. Why did the dentist hire her in the first place? As long as she's doing her job and doesn't sexually harass the dentist, she shouldn't have been fired. There's many people in the workplace that are sexually attracted to each other. It doesn't mean that you have to act on it.

  7. Paul Schnur

    That is the point, she didn't claim sexual harassment. She claim that she was unlawfully fired because she was a women. If it was sexual harassment she most likely, and should have, won the case.

  8. Megan Charles

    Heaven forbid you'd assume people would manage a little restraint, right? Be tame and have a little professionalism.

  9. Clint Wilson

    UNfortunante truth is the courts have overstepped their bounds for many years, now it is just getting even worse. Welcome to the beginnings of the New World Order….

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