Woman Fired Because Her Boss And His Wife Found Her A Threat To THEIR Marriage; Supreme Court Rule It’s Not Illegal

December 26, 2012  |  

So, if you live somewhere like Iowa and your boss has a sexual desire towards you that might not even have back towards them, you can lose your job for it–and it’s not illegal.

Melissa Nelson, who worked as a dental assistant for James Knight for more than 10 long years, was fired by Knight for being “irresistible.” While Knight claimed her attire was inappropriate and used that as one of the reasons why this dismissal was necessary, as a dental assistant, Nelson says she only wore scrubs, and allegedly rocked a long sleeve shirt underneath that. And seriously, we know how non-cute those ensembles are, even with the nicest prints and designs. However, bulges in the defendant’s pants were somehow supposed to be a signal that she needed to put on some baggier scrubs.

In a phone interview with CNN done by Don Lemon, Nelson made it clear that she was not having any type of affair with Knight, and in fact, she thought she had a great relationship with his entire family (as in, her family knew their family) after 10 long years of work. But somewhere in those 10 years, the wife became uneasy about their working relationship and their alleged relationship outside of work. While both claim they didn’t stray on their spouses (Nelson is “happily married” as she told Lemon), they did text each other occasionally outside of work, even though it wasn’t anything explicit. But when the wife found out they were texting one another, she wasn’t having it. Sometime later, the couple must have agreed that Nelson was someone Knight was very much attracted to, so he made the decision in 2010 to fire her to save himself the trouble of failing to be faithful to his wife. According to CNN, this is how the ax came down on her:

“In the presence of a pastor, Knight told Nelson that she had become a “detriment” to his family and for the sakes of both their families, they should no longer work together. Knight gave Nelson one month’s severance.”

But the problem with the whole firing is, how can you punish someone else because YOU’RE sexually attracted to them? Uh, that’s on you to get together! And Nelson was thinking the same thing, so she tried to file a lawsuit over her dismissal, claiming it was gender discrimination, and the case wound up in the hands of Iowa’s Supreme Court. However, as did the district court, the Supreme Court sided with Knight, not saying that he was right, but that he definitely didn’t fire her because of her gender, so it wasn’t unlawful. As Supreme Court Justice Edward M. Mansfield wrote:

“The issue before us is not whether a jury could find that Dr. Knight treated Nelson badly. We are asked to decide only if a genuine fact issue exists as to whether Dr. Knight engaged in unlawful gender discrimination when he fired Nelson at the request of his wife. For the reasons previously discussed, we believe this conduct did not amount to unlawful discrimination, and therefore we affirm the judgment of the district court.”

Since it went to the highest court in Iowa, Nelson’s attorney isn’t sure yet if they’re going to be able to appeal. As for Knight, he has already employed a new dental assistant. Ironically, he said that he didn’t fire Nelson because she was a woman, in fact, Knight only hires women, and has since replaced her with another female dental assistant, even though he claims that Nelson was the best one he ever had. Hmmm, it seems that if it took all this to bring piece of mind to this man’s marriage, and he still turned around and hired another female dental assistant, Knight’s wife is never probably going to be comfortable with her husband’s co-workers. We hope Nelson gets some type of justice for her unfair (well, in our opinion at least) termination, and this dude needs to take responsibility for himself and not blame other people for the fact that he was a sleazeball.

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  • faydee

    To Ms. Uwumarogie: The one word that comes to mind as I read your article, was, “verbose”. Also, “piece”of mind should be “peace”of mind.

  • Sharon

    I saw this on ABC news. It is crazy law. Anyway, the woman is not that pretty. This guy needs to decide if he will be faithful to his wife and resist any temptation when working with “attractive women”. You have to be dicipline and make rules for yourself and stick with it. Apparently he almost could not which is probably why he fired her.

  • Cleo

    But she isn’t even attractive…ehh

  • IllyPhilly

    Can’t she counter-sue?

    • mac

      She wasn’t sued. How can she counter sue?

      • IllyPhilly

        LMAO. I read it right last night and just didn’t retract y statement.

  • hollyw

    …mmkay, horrible situation, but need I say that, technically, the courts are right..? She filed under the wrong charges, this is textbook sexual harassment, not gender discrimination! One, I’d get a new attorney, then two, file for the right charges. I think perhaps her attorney was trying to make a name for herself out of this case…

  • anonymous

    if my husband admitted he was attracted to his coworker, which he exchanged casual texts with and had a friendly relationship with, I would want that temptation gone as well. Everyone faces temptation, even the strongest people. Yes, it does take self control to fight it, but, if you can eliminate or avoid temptation, why not? Why prance around it, skirting on the edge silently hoping to not succumb to it, when you can just take the temptation away all together. I understand it was this woman’s livlihood, but i still believe in the institution of marriage, and, at the risk of sounding selfish, my marriage is more important than someone else’s livlihood. However, he could of at least helped her find a job;so, she wouldn’t of had a firing on her work record…but there is probably more to this story than any of us know…ten years though

    • Ooh La La

      Definitely selfish. This woman has to lose her job because he’s attracted to her!? Please. Temptation is everywhere, not just the workplace, so by that theory the husband should never be allowed to leave the house then… Right??

    • Ooh La La

      P.S. saying “my marriage is more important than someone else’s livelihood” is like saying my life is more important than yours. How self-centered.

      • anonymous

        Um…not really but I do see how you could come to that assessment though. Do I believe that my life is better or more highly valued than others? No, not at all. However, there are certain things in life that have to take precedence over other things, and my personal relationship with my husband is definitely more important than someone else’s job. I will admit that my view is very self-centered though. Being self-centered is not always a bad thing though.

        • IAJS

          If someone has to lose their job because a man isn’t faithfull or doesn’t have a faithful mind then the woman should leave because switching female workers is not going to work. Women get a back bone a figure out what is and what is not acceptable.

    • I mean who cares that these women had lives, bills, children to feed, or was trying to pay off their mortgage or student loans. All that takes a back seat because your husband has a roaming eye? Why not take it a step further and do what they do in the middle east and cover up all attractive women from head to toe. ( you may think that’s extreme but essentially that same concept applies). You need to ask your husband why he had no problem in taking another woman’s phone number and texting her. Heck for all you know your husband could have lied about being married. Instead of ruining someone else’s life because your husband accepted her phone number, and magically decided not to tell you.. things that make you go hmmmm………..

  • Anndrex

    The Court ruled correctly. The woman filed the wrong charge. The Dentist did not fire her for her gender. If she wanted to file sexual harassment she should have; she probably would have won the case. The Dentist only hires females so it’s not gender discrimination.

    • Anndrex

      Most jobs have a dress code. I would have gone to work looking like an 80 year old woman if it meant keeping my job. She could have changed clothes after work. He asked her to change her dress because it was distracting. I work with women who wear really tight revealing clothes. Not appropriate for work.

      • Numero Uno

        But she was wearing scrubs. How is that inappropriate?

    • mac

      the only poster who got it right. Thank you.

    • Dee


    • kierah

      It was gender discrimination. If the hygienist had been male, the attraction wouldn’t have been there, so therefore, the hygienist would still have her job.

  • It’s one thing to be jealous but it’s a problem when you are f*cking with someone’s livelihood.

  • The Supreme Court is a JOKE! That is discrimination and after 10 years she’s all of a sudden irresistable? PLEASE! he and his wife need therapy, now this woman has no way of supporting her family (she will find another job but after 10 years are you serious?). His wife needs help and I would sue both their asses for every damn penny they have!

  • Donna

    This doesn’t make any sense to me. She WORKED for him for ten years. Nothing more, nothing less.

  • activist1

    I found it funny this guy thought something of an affair would occur between the two because HE was attracted to her. Last time I checked both parties must be mutually interested in one another for any activity to occur. Someone thinks highly of themselves…

  • thatonegirl

    Although it wasn’t right what happened to her she looks basic to me *kanye shrug.

    • sabrina

      She has blond hair and blue eyes. WP love that.

      • chanela

        exactly! that’s pretty much all they need to be considered “hot”.

  • The wife was jealous and persuaded the husband to fire her. Jealous is so terrible.

    • NaturalTresses

      @Kayla as well as he fired her b/c she was NEVER going to give him the na na and he became furious, ticked and livid so he fired her…typical male ego (Easing God Out) approach when they ‘can’t’ get their way with a woman they are attracted to…

  • Sagittarius81

    This ruling is BS! There’s a thing called SELF CONTROL, use it if you want to save your marriage. C’mon, 10 years of working together and now all of a sudden she’s a threat, this is BS!

  • Trisha_B

    She worked for him for 10 years, did she recently get pretty? This makes no sense smh

  • Alexa

    “they did text each other occasionally outside of work, even though it wasn’t anything explicit. But when the wife found out they were texting one another, she wasn’t having it.”

    I think there’s more to the story than what’s being reported and claimed in court.

    • True Blue

      Completely agree. There’s one instance where the story I read referred to a wisecrack the dentist made about the woman’s infrequent sex life….I’m wondering, how does he know anything about her sex life unless she is discussing it with him? Definitely believe this is more two sided than what is being portrayed in the media. Yet another reason why its good to separate your work and personal life….texting the boss causally NOT really the best idea

      About the ruling, while this was obviously unfair its not illegal as he clearly wasn’t terminating her simply because she was a woman. Unfortunately she can get fired for flimsy reasons such as the one provided in a right to work state like Iowa.

    • Jewel B

      Doesn’t mean that there was more to the story, just means that the wife was insecure.

      • IllyPhilly

        She was way pass insecure. That is bananas. His wife read that article that was on here about never hiring a pretty nanny.

        • effthatinsecurebs

          She wasn’t insecure, probably just wants to protect her family and her kids. Why did they ” text each other occasionally outside of work” that is probably why she lost the lawsuit. Don’t respond to your boss if the text have nothing to do with work.

      • mia

        lol females love to throw around the word insecure.

        An employer has no business casually texting his subordinates and his wife had every right to side eye their relationship.

        How many of you with male bosses casually text them, or would find it appropriate to do so? Oh dont worry, I’ll definitely wait.

    • mac

      absolutely. When someone tells a story you can be sure they’ll leave out the parts that make their character look questionable.