Iowa Supreme Court Rules: Okay To Fire Women For Being “Irresistible”

Filed in National by on December 26, 2012


Women in Iowa beware: If your boss thinks you’re really really ridiculously good looking, he can fire you. And it’s perfectly legal. The all-male Iowa Supreme Court refused to reinstate a lawsuit Friday, noting that a dentist didn’t break the law when he fired an employee who had worked for him for 10 years because he and his wife saw her as a threat to their marriage, reports the Associated Press. Melissa Nelson, the 32-year-old dental assistant was by all accounts a stellar employee. But her boss, James Knight, complained of her tight clothing, “once telling her that if his pants were bulging that was a sign her clothes were too revealing.”

I’m not even sure where to begin.  How about…

Yet again, we find men demanding that it’s the woman’s job to control their male urges.  That’s exactly what this ruling says.  Because: Dr. James Knight has admitted that he’s incapable of controlling his sexual urges.  And if what Dr. Knight claims about himself is true then I wouldn’t want to be one of his attractive patients under anesthesia.  Seriously, think about that.

And then there’s this:  “Dr. Knight acknowledges he once told Nelson that if she saw his pants bulging, she would know her clothing was too revealing,” the justices wrote.  First… eew.  Second, he actually admitted saying that?  Third, she should have sued him for sexual harassment.  Fourth brings us back to how Dr. Knight can’t control his sexual urges.

Enter the text messages, the wife and the pastor:

Six months before Nelson was fired, she and her boss began exchanging text messages about work and personal matters, such as updates about each of their children’s  activities, the justices wrote.

The messages were mostly mundane, but Nelson recalled one text she received from her boss asking “how often she experienced an orgasm.”

Nelson did not respond to the text and never indicated that she was uncomfortable with Knight’s question, according to court documents.

Soon after, Knight’s wife, Jeanne, who also works at the practice, found out about the text messaging and ordered her husband to fire Nelson.

You know, it takes two to text, but only one of the two lost their job.  Which brings us to the wife… Lord save us from stupid women.  Dear Mrs. Knight, the threat to your marriage (and I’m using that term loosely) isn’t Melissa Nelson – it’s your husband.

It’s also probably you, Mrs. Knight, because your solution to his problem tells me that you’ve bought into his “I can’t help myself” defense and will have to spend the rest of your life removing temptation from his path – lest he falls on top of them.  Makes you wonder how many temptations you missed so far, doesn’t it?

Now, how could we possibly make this situation worse?  I know, let’s add religion!

The couple consulted with a senior pastor at their church and he agreed that Nelson should be terminated in order to protect their marriage, Cochrane said.

On Jan. 4, 2010, Nelson was summoned to a meeting with Knight while a pastor was present. Knight then read from a prepared statement telling Nelson she was fired.

“Dr. Knight felt like for the best interest of his marriage and the best interest of hers to end their employment relationship,” Cochrane said.

Love the way Dr. Knight had to read a “prepared statement” and have his pastor play his wingman.  Also love the way he pretends to be saving her marriage, too – because the little woman couldn’t handle that on her own.  Love, love, love the way the male pastor agrees that the problem is the Jezebel and not the man who’s admitted to being unable to control himself.  Remember, both stated that there was no affair.  In fact, only Dr. Knight admitted to inappropriate sexual comments and the fantasy of a future relationship.

Frankly, Dr. and Mrs. Knight deserve each other.  My bet is that they end up in divorce court sooner, rather than later.  Oh, it won’t be Mrs. Knight filing for divorce.  No indeedy.  That woman shows no signs of intelligence and she’s already bought into the fact that her husband can’t control himself.  Oh no, my bet is that Dr. Knight will be filing for divorce as soon as he finds a woman who takes him up on his offers.  He’s obviously been looking.

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A stay-at-home mom with an obsession for National politics.

Comments (21)

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  1. heragain says:

    No, she’s probably his office manager. He’ll cheat on her, but no divorce. “cheaper to keep ‘er.”

  2. puck says:

    He’s especially stupid considering he didn’t even need to give a reason for firing her.

    She’s lucky to be out of there. Hopefully her telling of how she let his past offenses go by won’t ruin her chances for a harassment lawsuit. Settling for a year or more salary would probably be fair.

    At least he gave her a great recommendation 🙂

  3. Interesting how you make this some male bashing episode. Everyone knows that if you come into continuous conflict with the boss’ wife that your job is at risk. If you cannot work with someone, you can get rid of them. It may be attitude. It may be they are insubordinate. It may be they are inappropriate with you. It may be that in the interests of the business that you need to go another direction. The fact is a lot of women and men get hired or promoted because they are attractive. That is not against the law, why should the opposite be against the law?

    Do I think Melissa Nelson got a bad deal? Yes. I think it was a shame that she lost her job for no fault of her own. I would have dealt with it another way. I would not dump on a quality employee. There were other options. Should there be a law? No, a person has the right to protect the interest of his/her business. Risking it being divided is not protecting it. He had a legitimate business interest to go a different way. He treated her well and did not hurt her prospects for other employment. There is no lifetime entitlement to work for someone.

    I was let go some years ago from a company because the new partner wanted to go a different direction. He asked what I thought of a merger and I told him that if he went that direction it would sink the company with debt. Instead of listening to the question he asked he insisted that my friend get rid of me even though I had been recognized as the most valued employee or the year the previous month and just achieved a major deal which brought the company a major partnership with Microsoft and was on the verge of 2 multi- million dollar contracts. Well, within a year the company was gone, my friend was also pushed out of the company that he started in a few months. Did I sue because I was let go “unfairly”? No, because it was not based upon discrimination. You do not have a right to a job unless you make it yourself.

  4. X Stryker says:

    You’ve convinced yourself it wasn’t due to discrimination, in any case.

  5. Now back to your male bashing, the problem was not about sexual urges. It was about the fact that after 10 years of friendship, both hit sort of unhappy periods in their marriages at the same time and he was falling for her. It was not about women in general, it was about relationship. He thought it was better to prevent a problem and go a different direction especially with his wife dragging him everywhere insisting upon it. I think it was less about his not being able to control himself than his ability to hear from his wife at home and work without going crazy.

    That would interfere with anyone’s productivity. Maybe you should think multidimensionally. This idea that “Yet again, we find men demanding that it’s the woman’s job to control their male urges. ” Is hardly about the case, but about your feminist agenda. Human relationships are complicated. Love, chemistry, friendship are not uncomplicated issues. Suppose it was his attorney recommended that she go to avoid the Dr. risking a future sexual harassment suit. Everyone agrees that he never crossed that line, but suppose his motivation was in that direction? It happens all of the time in one way or another that people get moved around, resign, or even dismissed mysteriously. Would you have the same opinion if it were an attorney instead of a pastor?

    The truth is an attorney would have told him just to say you are going another direction give her the month’s severance and a great recommendation. There was no need to tell her and she would be none the wiser. That is where pastors shouldn’t play in businesses not their own.

  6. pandora says:

    So much nonsense, so little time…

    I didn’t just bash Dr. Knight and his wingman pastor. I bashed Mrs. Knight, too.

    And Dr. Knight didn’t fire her over her looks. He fired her because he didn’t trust himself to not fall on top of her. There was no affair except in his mind.

    “a person has the right to protect the interest of his/her business. Risking it being divided is not protecting it. He had a legitimate business interest to go a different way.”

    This wasn’t a business decision. This was personal. He could have solved it by changing HIS behavior. That obviously wasn’t an option since he’s admitted to being unable to control himself. And I’m serious about being concerned for his attractive patients he places under anesthesia.

    And your firing had to do with your disagreement with your boss over his business. Maybe you didn’t think that was fair, but – if what you claim is true – you basically told your boss that he was, well… stupid, and that you weren’t a team player. That’s fine, but you were fired over a business issue.

  7. No X Stryker, in fact when the friend had a chance to seek out a business partner years later, he called me.

  8. X Stryker says:

    Sure, the friend did, but not the New Partner.

  9. I agree, it was business. Of course, I wouldn’t have told him if he did not ask me to look over the numbers and give an opinion. I gave a private opinion to the partners not a public one. It turned out he was very intelligent but very bad at business leverage calculations. Not giving an opinion would have been self destructive because the company wouldn’t last. It turned out to be true. The bank was wrong, but they got their money regardless when everything was sold.

    So is a team player one that protects the team? Most people say yes. If you say no, than frankly, I would not want to work for you anyway.

  10. pandora says:

    “Now back to your male bashing, the problem was not about sexual urges. It was about the fact that after 10 years of friendship, both hit sort of unhappy periods in their marriages at the same time and he was falling for her.”

    Prove that statement. Go on, prove it. I have seen nothing that backs up the claim that Melissa Nelson was having trouble in her marriage.

    “He thought it was better to prevent a problem and go a different direction especially with his wife dragging him everywhere insisting upon it. I think it was less about his not being able to control himself than his ability to hear from his wife at home and work without going crazy.”

    Sheesh, is this guy responsible for anything in your world, or is just some cowardly sap caught between two women – the irresistable employee and his dragging him around, obviously nagging wife.

  11. Back to the subject, the question is can the government remedy every wrong in the complexity of human relationships and should it? We all agree that harassment and discrimination should be banned. The question is where does it become unworkable? In some towns in CA, they have ban lookism, which if firing people because of their looks. It would seem to apply here even though most people think of hiring better looking people what every that means. Is that workable? Does it create so many problems that it is better to allow a rare case like this one to go and make sure unemployment and other help is available?

    We just cannot fix every problem through government.

  12. Actually, I have read in the case that she was complaining to the good Dr. that she was not getting enough sex anymore from her husband. It was that text message that got the wife upset in the first place and started this.

    Yes, Pandora, he was a cowardly sap, who should have gone to a professional counselor to deal with his own issues not fire her. We do not disagree on that.

  13. Go back to my website and follow that link, it is there. It is almost never one person is an angel and one is a devil. Human relationships are complicated.

  14. puck says:

    The Supreme Court ruled correctly, based on the question brought before it:

    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.

    I like at-will employment even if it sometimes sucks for the employee. I like being able to quit whenever I want; therefore I have to accept getting fired whenever the employer wants.

    Anyway, there is plenty of stupid to go around. This dentist is asking her about her orgasms and telling her about the bulge in his pants, and she says she thought of him as a father figure. Maybe we’d better go check out her father.

  15. The question is was she unfairly fired? Yes. Was she illegally fired? No. Should it be illegal? How? How can you make such a regime work? I agree it is sad for her, but it is nice to have the right not to give a month’s notice and lose out on a better job. At- will has its benefits. Sometimes you have to deal with the pain.

  16. pandora says:

    Your link doesn’t prove what you claim. But if you want to use that link then you have to use her comment about not being sexually interested in Knight.

    My point isn’t about a consensual sexual relationship that didn’t happen, or might have happened. It’s about how only one person was held accountable and paid the price.

  17. People, you have the freedom to do what you want, but dressing some what provocatively, then discussing your sex life in writing with your married boss of the opposite sex while his wife is your office manager may not be a good long term job plan depending on how influential she is and how jealous she is. She worked there for 10 years and they were all friends. Maybe she got just a little too comfortable. She did nothing wrong, that is not an inappropriate subject matter, but it seemed to have changed the way he thought about her.

    That is why I said it wasn’t about his inability to control urges. It was about chemistry, relationships, and intangibles that make human interaction interesting.

    This is what I am wondering and asked without an answer on both blogs. Is it even possible to regulate something this complicated and would the unintended consequences be worse?

  18. I agree that there was no sexual relationship, in fact, I think he flattered himself thinking one might have developed. That is where you may engage in a little bashing. I don’t see her as being punished. She got a good severance and a solid recommendation. We would not be talking about this case if it were not for the recession keeping her from getting a job that paid as well. If you want to say that it is unfair that she suffered when she did nothing worthy of it, I AGREE. 100% agree. You and I are not far apart here. I hate it.

    I just disagree with the tone that some all male court is saying that women have to get in burkas to keep from tempting men or get fired. That is not what the court said. The case is complicated. There just is not a law to cover this rare circumstance.

  19. Walt says:

    You can’t have intimidation in the work place. Employee to customer, employee to other work participants; it just doesn’t work.

  20. DEvoter302 says:

    He owns/runs the business so he can fire someone for whatever reason he wants. It is his property and he hasn’t deprived another of theirs.