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.