Veronica Roberts

Have we found another unbelievable way to discriminate against women? When I first heard about this, I thought it was a joke from one of those satirical websites like The Onion, but I quickly found out it was an actual news story.

The Iowa Supreme Court ruled that employer James Knight of Fort Dodge was right to fire dental assistant Melissa Nelson for being “irresistible.”

Yes, you read right. An all-male court ruled unanimously in favor of dentist Knight for giving 32-year-old Nelson the boot for being so attractive that he couldn’t resist her if she remained one more day in his presence. Apparently his wife had urged Knight to fire his assistant after she allegedly found texts exchanged between the two.

The seven male judges agreed that Knight—or any employer—has the legal right to issue pink slips to any employees he finds too “tempting” to keep in his employ. One of the justices, Edward Mansfield, defended the decision, reportedly writing that the firing was not based on gender or sexual discrimination but on Knight’s emotions and feelings. (Read more at the Daily Mail.)

The married mother spoke via phone to CNN Friday about the stunning ruling, saying “I don’t think this is fair—I don’t think this is right.” A longtime assistant to Knight, Nelson is 21 years younger than he is, is happily married and said she had no interest in a relationship with her former boss.

Knight’s lawyer reportedly said that his client’s firing of Nelson was a victory for family values, because he did it in the interest of saving his marriage. Nelson has insisted that she neither flirted nor encouraged Knight sexually or romantically, and despite his claims of her being irresistible in the workplace, she said all she wore were medical scrubs.

Nelson’s lawyer does not agree with the judges’ ruling—a first in Iowa—and sees the firing of his client as clear gender discrimination. Melissa Nelson now works as a waitress six nights a week.


Did they legalize marijuana in Iowa, too? They must have and those seven male justices must have gone overboard in the newfound freedom of inhaling, for that would explain their baffling decision. In one stunning sweep, they have ruled that employees are now at the mercy of employers who might find them too attractive.

We do not have any control over who find us attractive or irresistible, nor do we have control over jealous or insecure wives. With that said, how can we be fired for something we have no control over? Where does it stop? What if he found her too tall or too short? Too dark or too light? Too skinny or too fat? This is such a slippery slope that I find the Iowa court should be impeached, for they obviously have wielded their power irresponsibly. I hope Nelson is planning on taking her case all the way to the Supreme Court.