Melissa Nelson is a dental assistant who lost her job because her male boss found her too “irresistible” and saw her as a threat to his marriage. This story might already sound ridiculous, but it gets worseÂ—the all-male Iowa Supreme Court ruled that it was okay for her boss to fire her for such an asinine reason.
According to CNN, Melissa wasn’t sexually harassing her boss or trying to seduce him. In fact, she says she saw him as a father figure, and it sounds like he was the one who was doing the harassing. Dentist James Knight once told Nelson that “if she saw his pants bulging, she would know her clothing was too revealing.” And when Nelson complained about her lack of a sex life, Knight responded by saying, “[T]hat’s like having a Lamborghini in the garage and never driving it.”
But unfortunately Melissa Nelson didn’t sue horndog James Knight for sexual harassmentÂ—she sued him for gender discrimination. The Iowa Supreme Court agreed with Knight that Nelson’s gender wasn’t the reason that he fired herÂ—he let his employee of ten years go because he and his wife saw Nelson as a threat to his marriage.
From the sounds of it, Nelson would still be getting leered at if Knight’s wife hadn’t discovered that the dentist and the dental assistant were exchanging harmless text messages about their family lives. After making this discovery, Mrs. Knight demanded that her husband fire Nelson.
Unfortunately Mrs. Knight won’t be able to control her husband all the time. If he finds one woman so irresistible that he can’t work with her, who’s to say he won’t start lusting after other women? Will he be able to control his sexual desires when he has a sexy, scantily-clad patient knocked out in his dental chair? And does Knight think that it would be okay for him to make sexually charged comments about Nelson if he wasn’t married? Hopefully this story makes women think twice about working for Knight or becoming one of his patients.
Knight could have avoided a lot of embarrassment by firing Nelson and not giving her a reason for her terminationÂ—most employers can fire employees without telling them why they’re being terminated. They only have to worry about getting in trouble if there’s evidence that they’ve discriminated against an employee’s race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation. The Iowa Supreme Court might agree that gender had nothing to do with Knight’s decision to fire Nelson, but she’d probably still have a job if she was a man.
Just imagine how horrible it must be to be in Nelson’s shoesÂ—she had seven male judges tell her that she can’t have her job because her boss wants to have sex with her. So apparently women in Iowa are now responsible for controlling their bosses’ sexual desires. Next thing you know, a rapist will be win a court case by telling a judge that he just couldn’t help himself because he found his target so attractive.
So what do you think that Knight was within his rights when he fired Nelson? Or did she deserve to win her court case?
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