Can You Be Too Sexy For Your Job? The Iowa Supreme Court Says Yes
You can be too sexy for your job, at least according to the Iowa Supreme Court, which just ruled that a dentist in that state was within his rights to fire an assistant whom he and his wife deemed too attractive. In a 7- 0 decision, the court ruled that it is lawful for employers to fire employees whom they find to be “irresistibly attractive,” even if there are no performance-related grounds for termination.
That can't possibly be right, can it? How is that legal? You can't discriminate against an employee based on her appearance, can you?
Discrimination based on appearance is permitted in the vast majority of states,
There must be more to this, right? She must have been hitting on her boss, creating a distraction with her flirtatious behavior?
While Ms. Nelson was not alleged to have engaged in flirtatious behavior with her boss, James Knight, Knight reportedly told Nelson’s husband that he feared becoming too attached to Nelson and being tempted into initiating an affair with her.
(Not that it's germane to the topic at hand, but how did Nelson's husband not kick this guy's ass?)
Okay, but she must at least have been dressed inappropriately for a professional office, right?
That either gets you fired or a raise!
While her former boss claimed her clothes were so tight he couldn’t look at her without being aroused, Nelson said the only outfit she wore to work was standard scrubs worn by many nurses and assistants in dental offices.
Nelson, 32, worked for Knight for 10 years, and he considered her a stellar worker. But in the final months of her employment, he complained that her tight clothing was distracting, once telling her that if his pants were bulging that was a sign her clothes were too revealing, according to the opinion.
Oh, and she's the problem here?
How is she not suing for harassment?
Nelson filed a lawsuit alleging gender discrimination, arguing she would not have been terminated if she was male. She did not allege sexual harassment because Knight’s conduct may not have risen to that level and didn’t particularly offend her, Fiedler said.
Knight argued Nelson was fired not because of her gender, but because her continued employment threatened his marriage. A district judge agreed, dismissing the case before trial, and the high court upheld that ruling.
Wow! So you can be fired if your boss thinks he may not be able to keep his hands off you, even if you have not given any indication that you would allow him to place his hands on you or that you would have any interest in having an affair with him, so if he did try putting his hands on you, he would be committing a sexual assault. You, you can be fired for his lack of impulse control?
This is very worrisome to those of us who are irresistibly attractive. Sure, my boss is a married man, but when you're as irresistible as me, that's no guarantee. I'm definitely going to have to dial down my attractiveness until the courts decide to join the 21st Century, or at least catch up to the 20th.