A dentist acted legally when he fired a longtime assistant because he had grown too attracted to her and worried he would try to start an affair, the Iowa Supreme Court reaffirmed Friday in its second crack at the controversial case.
Coming to the same outcome as it did in December, but clarifying its rationale, the court found that bosses can fire employees that they and their spouses see as threats to their marriages. The court said such firings do not count as sex discrimination because they are motivated by feelings, not gender.
The ruling upholds a judge's dismissal of a discrimination lawsuit filed by Melissa Nelson against James Knight. The Fort Dodge dentist fired the 33-year-old Nelson — two decades his junior — after his wife learned of text messages between the two. The married mother of two had worked for Knight for 10 years, and he considered her his best assistant.
This is what I cannot get over--the man's wife had him fire Nelson.
The firing came at the request of Knight's wife, who was concerned about the relationship between Knight and Nelson. Mansfield said the firing might have been bad treatment — and paying her one month's severance was ungenerous — but that it was not gender discrimination. Nelson was replaced by another woman; Knight had an all-female staff.
Yes, it most certainly was gender discrimination, and all it will take are a few more cases where people of the same sex interact in this way and have these disputes. The involvement of the spouse in the decision to fire Nelson is where the bias is exemplified. Your spouse cannot determine who is hired and fired in a government position, for example, and that should not be the case in the private sector as well. It is a clear case of unprofessional bias and it should be illegal for someone to tell their spouse to fire someone without just cause.
Then there is this example, which shows the douchebaggery of James Knight, which Nelson should have reported as sexual harrassment:
Cady said Nelson once told Knight that she wasn't having much sex and he responded, "That's like having a Lamborghini in the garage and not ever driving it." The dentist had also texted her asking how often she experienced orgasms (she did not respond) and complained that her body distracted him at work, once telling her that if she saw his pants bulging, that was a sign her clothes were too revealing. Knight also gave Nelson more favorable treatment than other workers, and she once texted him that she continued working there "because of you," he noted.Douchebaggery is not illegal, but it should go a long ways towards informing the law as to what is and what is not acceptable discourse and practice in the workplace. It sounds like this was an immature relationship that was exacerbated by an inability to know where the boundaries were in everyday situations. There's no excuse for not knowing how to act around others. When you run or own a business, you should know these things.
The law has been misused in this case. Do you have to have legal experience to be a Supreme Court Justice in Iowa? How dumb are these people?