Dentist Who Fired Attractive Assistant to Prevent Adultery Did Not Discriminate, Court Says

Iowa Supreme Court votes 7-0 to allow employers to fire employees for 'irresistible attraction.'

The Iowa State Supreme Court ruled last week that a male dentist who fired his attractive female assistant did not discriminate against her or violate the state's civil rights law.

James Knight, a dentist in Fort Dodge, Iowa, fired dental assistant Melissa Nelson after he and his wife became worried that, in response to Nelson's attractiveness, Knight was "getting too personally attached to her" and "feared he would try to have an affair with her down the road." Nelson filed suit, alleging that Knight had discriminated against her on the basis of her gender and arguing that her situation arose only because of her gender.

However, the all-male state Supreme Court voted 7-0 in Knight's favor, finding that Knight did not violate the Iowa Civil Rights Act, which ensures equal treatment for employees regardless of their gender.

"Even taking Nelson's view of the facts, Dr. Knight's unfair decision to terminate Nelson (while paying her a rather ungenerous one month's severance) does not jeopardize ...

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