Fired for being ‘irresistible’

by HCA04 Jan 2013

Many would like to think themselves ‘irresistible’ – but not if it means getting fired. Yet that’s exactly what happened to one so-called ‘irresistible’ dental nurse in the US.

Melissa Nelson was fired by her employer, Dr James Knight, for being too attractive to him, and, if she kept working for him, would represent a threat to his marriage. The Supreme Court agreed her tight clothing and behaviour could be a distraction, and ruled in Knight’s favour.

While no sexual relationship ever occurred between the pair, in the six months prior to Nelson being fired, she and her boss began exchanging text messages about work and personal matters, including their children's activities.

Nelson had worked for Knight for 10 years, and the court found that because the dentist was motivated by feelings and emotions and not gender, it was not a case of unlawful discrimination. Nelson’s lawyer, Paige Fiedler, argued that the decision failed to recognise discrimination against women in the workforce. “These judges sent a message to Iowa women that they don't think men can be held responsible for their sexual desires and that Iowa women are the ones who have to monitor and control their bosses’ sexual desires,” she told the Huffington Post. “If they get out of hand, then the women can be legally fired for it.”

Dr Knight's lawyer, Stuart Cochrane, said the dentist believed firing Mrs Nelson would result in the best outcome. “While there was really no fault on the part of Mrs Nelson, it was just as clear the decision to terminate her was not related to the fact that she was a woman,” he told the Huffington Post. “The motives behind Dr Knight terminating Mrs Nelson were quite clear: He did so to preserve his marriage. I don't view this as a decision that was either pro-women or opposed to women rights at all. In my view, this was a decision that followed the appropriate case law.”

COMMENTS

  • by Sunita 4/01/2013 9:29:54 PM

    While Dr.James Knight is not being professional at all in his decision, employers do have a right to decide who they want to work with or don't. This is not about being a woman - the same could happen if a lady employer is uncomfortable working with a male employee for whatever reason.
    The main thing to keep in mind is to ensure that Melissa is compensated per the terms and agreements of her contract and that courtesy is extended to her in this whole process.
    If she held this job for 10 years, I am sure that she will easily find another opportunity that will not have such personal baggage attached to it.