It doesn’t seem like it could be right for a boss to fire you because he’s too attracted to you, even if you behave in a professional manner and never flirt; but that’s exactly what happened to dental hygienist Melissa Nelson. Iowa supreme court upheld her boss James Knight’s decision to fire her because he felt he couldn’t resist having an affair with her, even though Melissa is also married, and has stated that she has never had any romantic feelings about Knight.
Melissa worked with dentist Knight for over 10 years, and says she was surprised that he had these feelings for her.
Melissa sued, and the case was heard before the Iowa Supreme court, who ruled unanimously that employees can be terminated over “irresistible attraction.” Justice Edward Mansfield states that this is not wrongful discrimination because it is motivated by feelings and emotions, not gender.
Melissa unsuccessfully sued for gender discrimination after she was terminated when Knight’s wife found out he was texting Melissa. In court documents, Knight spoke of Melissa’s infrequent sex life, saying “That’s like having a Lamborghini in the garage and never driving it.”
Melissa and her lawyer believe that this sets a dangerous precedent in the work place, allowing men to terminate women at any time based on “irresistible attraction,” but under this 7-0 ruling in Iowa women could also fire men they were attracted to, as well as same-sex attraction. As the judge noted, it’s not about gender at all, it’s about feelings, and it’s quite common for workplace crushes to develop. It doesn’t seem right to live in fear of losing your job because someone might have a crush on you.
What do you think? Should employees be able to be fired because they’re too attractive?