An Iowa dentist did not discriminate against a female assistant he fired for being “too attractive,” the Iowa Supreme Court ruled unanimously on Friday in its second decision in the case.
In December, the all-male court ruled that Dr. James Knight did not discriminate in firing dental hygienist Melissa Nelson after more than 10 years’ service because he found her too attractive and his wife saw her as a threat.
Nelson had argued she would not have been fired if she were a man, and her attorney, Paige Fiedler, argued in seeking a second hearing that their decision was a setback for gender equality in the workplace.
In late June, the justices decided to reconsider the case.
“We ultimately conclude the conduct does not amount to unlawful sex discrimination in violation of the Iowa Civil Rights Act,” Justice Edward Mansfield wrote.
Knight had hired Nelson in 1999 and on several occasions in the 18 months before he fired her in early 2010, he complained that her clothing was too tight, revealing and distracting, the decision said. She denied wearing anything inappropriate.
Nelson and Knight began texting each other in 2009, the opinion said. Most messages were work-related or otherwise innocuous, but some were more suggestive, including one in which Knight asked Nelson how often she had an orgasm, the opinion said. Nelson did not answer that text.
“The fact of the matter is Nelson was terminated because of the activities of her consensual personal relationship with her employer, not because of her gender,” Chief Justice Mark Cady wrote in a separate special concurrence. …
Vía Reuters: Oddly Enough http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/oddlyEnoughNews/~3/eamoZ7h71Ac/story01.htm