Attention women of Iowa: no matter how great you are at your job, if you’re hot, your boss can apparently now legally fire you just for being hot. According to the Associated Press, the Iowa Supreme Court recently ruled that a boss can legally fire an employee he’s physically attracted to because he and his wife see her as a threat to the sanctity of their marriage.
Can a boss fire an employee he finds attractive because he and his wife, fairly or not, see her as a threat to their marriage?
Yes, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled Friday.
“The question we must answer is … whether an employee who has not engaged in flirtatious conduct may be lawfully terminated simply because the boss views the employee as an irresistible attraction,” Justice Edward M. Mansfield wrote for the all-male high court.
The all-male Iowa Supreme Court court sided with a lower court in this case against an apparently super-hot dental hygienist named Melissa Nelson.
Such firings may not be fair, but they do not constitute unlawful discrimination under the Iowa Civil Rights Act, the decision read, siding with a lower court.
Some think this Iowa Supreme Court ruling is a huge victory for “family values.”
An attorney for Fort Dodge dentist James Knight said the decision, the first of its kind in Iowa, is a victory for “family values” because Knight fired Melissa Nelson in the interest of saving his marriage, not because she was a woman.
The dentist (the boss) was the real victim here, his attorney argued.
Nelson, 32, worked for Knight for 10 years, and he considered her a stellar worker. But in the final months of her employment, he complained that her tight clothing was distracting, once telling her that if his pants were bulging that was a sign her clothes were too revealing, according to the opinion.
He also once allegedly remarked about her infrequent sex life by saying, “that’s like having a Lamborghini in the garage and never driving it.”
See, the hygienist and the dentist began texting toward the end of her employment, and that worried the dentist (and his wife).
Knight and Nelson – both married with children – started exchanging text messages, mostly about personal matters, such as their families. Knight’s wife, who also worked in the dental office, found out about the messages and demanded Nelson be fired. The Knights consulted with their pastor, who agreed that terminating Nelson was appropriate.
Knight fired Nelson and gave her one month’s severance. He later told Nelson’s husband that he worried he was getting too personally attached and feared he would eventually try to start an affair with her.
But the hygienist said she never planned to have an affair with her employer; she just wasn’t that into him. And he was her boss.
Nelson was stunned because she viewed the 53-year-old Knight as a father figure and had never been interested in starting a relationship, Fiedler said.
The hygienist didn’t think it was fair that she lose her job simply by causing, um, bulges in her employer’s pants.
An attorney for Melissa Nelson, the fired employee, said the decision was wrong.
“We are appalled by the court’s ruling and its failure to understand the nature of gender bias,” said Paige Fiedler, the attorney. “For the seven men on the Iowa Supreme Court not to ‘get it’ is shocking and disheartening. It underscores the need for judges on the bench to be diverse in terms of their gender, race and life experiences.”
So now, because of the ruling in this case, it seems that women in Iowa can legally be fired for being “irresistible” to their bosses.
But what, really, is the litmus test for irresistibility?
For example, do all gentleman prefer blondes? What about those websites devoted to redheads? Is going brunette the key to job security? What if the boss likes blondes, but his wife prefers brunettes? Would growing a uni-brow prevent a boss bulge from growing? What if the boss has a uni-brow fetish?
The possibilities are endless, as beauty and bulges are in the pants of the beholder. Or something like that.
It’s also important to keep in mind that it’s almost 2013 and that a woman’s job should not be in peril because her boss finds her attractive and doesn’t think he can keep it in his pants.
Read the Iowa Supreme Court decision here.