Dental Assistant Fired for Being “Irresistible”

Melissa Nelson, a dental assistant, was fired because she was “too irresistible” and posed a threat to her employer’s marriage. According to an ABC news report, Nelson spoke up after an all-male Iowa State Supreme Court ruled that Nelson’s boss, James Knight, was within his legal rights when he fired her, affirming the decision of a lower court. Nelson said the court’s decision sends a message to employers that men can do anything they want in the workforce.

Gender Bias? wrongful termination

An attorney for Knight says the court’s determination was correct because Nelson was not terminated because of her gender, but because of concerns that her behavior was “not appropriate” in the workplace. The attorney goes on to say that Nelson is an “attractive lady” and that Knight found her behavior and dress to be “inappropriate.”

Nelson, a 32-year-old married mother of two, said she was shocked at the rationale behind her firing. Court documents state that the two never had a sexual relationship or sought one, but that Knight started making comments about Nelson’s clothing being “too tight or distracting” in the final year and a half of her employment there. Knight told Nelson and her husband that he was firing her to protect his marriage because he feared that he might have an affair if Nelson continued to work there. Nelson’s attorney contended that Knight’s actions were a form of gender bias, which is illegal under federal law.

Women Still Face Challenges

For many years now, women have been easy targets when it comes to discrimination and harassment in the workplace. However, female workers in California and elsewhere in the nation continue to be victimized and face discrimination and harassment. What seems so jarring to me personally about this particular case in Iowa is the fact that the dentist acknowledged that Nelson was a good employee, that she did her job well. The only reason he fired her was because she happened to be a woman whom he found “irresistible.” The only reason Nelson, a 10-year professional, lost her job was because of her boss’s inability to control his feelings for her. What is wrong with this picture?

Having to cope with these types of discrimination can be emotionally and financially devastating for victims. There are laws in place to protect employees from wrongful termination, harassment and intimidation on the job. However, there are many employers who believe that they can get away with violating an employee’s rights. In this case, they might have done just that.

Share the Post:

Related Posts