An Iowa dentist acted legally in firing a  long-time assistant because he – and his wife – viewed the married mother as a  threat to their marriage, the all-male Iowa Supreme Court ruled  Friday.

The court ruled 7-0 bosses can sack employees  they see as an ‘irresistible attraction,’ even if they have not engaged in  flirtatious behavior or otherwise done anything wrong.

Appearing on CNN Friday night, assistant  Melissa Nelson said the decision was deeply unfair.

‘I don’t think this is fair,’ she said from  her Iowa home by phone. ‘I don’t think this is right.’

Such firings may be unfair, but they  are not  unlawful discrimination under the Iowa Civil Rights Act because  they are  motivated by feelings and emotions, and not gender, Justice  Edward Mansfield  wrote.

Jurisprudence: Justice Edward Mansfield penned the Iowa Supreme Court’s decision on Knight’s dismissal of Melissa Nelson

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 Nelson in the interest of saving his marriage, not  because she was a woman.

But Nelson’s attorney said Iowa’s all-male  high court, one of only a handful in the nation, failed to recognize the  discrimination women see routinely in the workplace.

Nelson insisted she was never interested in  Knight romantically, regardless of his own feelings.

‘Absolutely not,’ she said. ‘I’m happily  married.’

Since Knight fired her she has worked as a  waitress six nights a week.

While her former boss claimed her clothes  were tight, Nelson said the  only outfit she wore to work was standard scrubs worn by many nurses and  assistants in dental offices.

Asked if she saw herself as irresistibly  attractive, Nelson laughed at the question.

‘I’m just an ordinary girl,’ she said. ‘Just  an ordinary mom.’

Also appearing via call-in, her attorney, Paige Fiedler, said it was unlikely they  would seek an appeal because of the way the case was filed as only interpreting  state law.

‘These judges sent a message to Iowa women  that they don’t think men can be held responsible for their sexual desires and  that Iowa women are the ones who have to monitor and control their bosses’  sexual desires,’ Fielder said.  ‘If they get out of hand, then the women  can be legally fired for it.’

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 he worried he was getting too  personally attached and feared he would eventually try to start an affair with  her.

Source: The Daily Mail


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