Although firing an employee because she is too attractive may seem unfair, it is not against the law in Iowa, according to the state’s Supreme Court. Firing a female employee and replacing her with another female employee, in an office composed of other female employees, does not amount to gender discrimination, according to the court.
Melissa Nelson had worked as an assistant for the same dentist for 10 years before her boss decided that she “was a detriment” to his family and fired her. According to Nelson’s wrongful termination and gender discrimination lawsuit, the dentist had made remarks about her clothing being too revealing, commented on her sex life and began exchanging text messages with her outside of the office.
Nelson claims that she was wrongfully terminated after the dentist explained to her that their continued working relationship could have a negative effect on each of their families. Both Nelson and her employer were married with children.
The dentist’s wife also worked at the office and demanded that Nelson be fired after discovering the texts.
The reasoning of the seven male justices that make up the Iowa Supreme Court was questioned by Nelson’s lawyer, who claimed that the ruling showed a complete misunderstanding of gender discrimination in the workplace.
“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,” noted Nelson’s attorney.
Nelson did not pursue a sexual harassment claim against her former employer.
Source: CNN, “Iowa Supreme Court: OK to fire ‘irresistible’ worker,” December 22, 2012