COURT RULING: Worker’s Firing Not Discrimination

melissa nelson

After taking a second look at the case of an Iowa dental assistant fired for being “irresistible”, the Iowa Supreme Court says the legal standards of her claim that she was discriminated against because of her sex have not been met.

Melissa Nelson had worked for Dr. James Knight at his Fort Dodge practice for more than 10 years. In 2010 Knight fired Nelson because his wife, who also worked at the dental office, thought she was a threat to their marriage.

Court documents show Knight told Nelson she had done nothing wrong and though “she was the best dental assistant he ever had” it would be best if the two didn’t work together anymore.

The Iowa Supreme Court originally ruled on the case in 2012, saying employees could be fired “simply because the boss views the employee as an irresistible attraction.”

In June, the court withdrew its opinion and said it would review the case again.

The outcome of their review was the same as the original case. The court says the case lacked the facts to establish discrimination and, “Without proof of sex discrimination, the employment at will doctrine followed in Iowa guides the outcome.”

You can read the full statement from Nelson’s attorney who described the decision as “distressing” here.

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