Iowa Court: OK To Fire Employee for Being Hot

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Dec. 22 2012 6:28 AM

Iowa Supreme Court: It's Legal To Fire Employee for Being Irresistibly Sexy

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An Iowa dental assistant was too good-looking for her own good

Photo Illustration by Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Women in Iowa beware: If your boss thinks you’re really really ridiculously good looking, he can fire you. And it’s perfectly legal. The all-male Iowa Supreme Court refused to reinstate a lawsuit Friday, noting that a dentist didn’t break the law when he fired an employee who had worked for him for 10 years because he and his wife saw her as a threat to their marriage, reports the Associated Press. Melissa Nelson, the 32-year-old dental assistant was by all accounts a stellar employee. But her boss, James Knight, complained of her tight clothing, “once telling her that if his pants were bulging that was a sign her clothes were too revealing.” 

In a unanimous ruling, the justices ruled that having an “irresistible attraction” is enough of a justification enough to fire someone. It doesn’t matter if the person has not engaged in any kind of inappropriate or even flirtatious behavior and wouldn’t consider touching her employer with a 10-foot pole. Sure, that may not be exactly fair, conceded the justices, but it doesn’t constitute unlawful discrimination. Knight insisted Nelson wasn’t fired for her gender. It’s just that her employment threatened his marriage. And that conduct isn’t illegal because “it was based on specific emotions tied to a specific relationship and not based solely on a person’s gender,” notes the Des Moines Register.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.

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