All-Male Court Finds Firing of Attractive Employee Legal

Posted:

The Iowa Supreme Court has concluded that being fired for being too sexy a woman is not sexual discrimination in the workplace. Since that day, many have attempted to understand the rationale behind the court’s decision. Many are left asking if the decision is a misrepresentation of anti-discrimination law.
Basics of the Case
The plaintiff, Nelson, was a woman working for the defendant, Knight, at a dental office. She had a history as an excellent employee. The two had been exchanging some sexual innuendo by text message. Knight one day began to complain that Nelson’s appearance was “too attractive”. He claimed to worry that his marriage and professionalism might be endangered by Nelson’s appearance. He decided to fire her on that basis. She then claimed unlawful termination based on sexual discrimination. Her case was appealed to the Supreme Court. The Court, in a rare 7-0 decision, sided with Knight.
Feelings, not Sex
The court reasoned that Knight’s decision was not discriminatory because it was based on “feelings” and not on gender. Knight stated that his decision was motivated by feelings and concern for his marriage, but it is also reasonable to assume that such feelings stemmed from his sexual attractions, and those attractions must logically have arisen because Nelson was a woman. Since it can be presumed that Knight was not homosexual, this situation logically could not have been an issue if Nelson was a man.
The court based much of this decision on the idea that Knight kept on all female staff and replaced Neslon with another female employee. The court seems to have interpreted this action to mean that Knight is not discriminating for the position based on gender. Many believe that reasoning to be a misinterpretation of the essence of the law.
A Dangerous Precedent
This case sets some very dangerous precedents for future discrimination cases. The idea that decisions based on sexually motivated feelings toward employees is not actionable is likely to allow many a lawyer to use this leverage in court. It also blurs the very idea of gender discrimination. If Knight can successfully fire an employee for being “too attractive”, can other employees be fired for similar non-job related reasons of appearance?
This precedent will remain, at least in the case of Iowa law. Since Nelson did not sue for discrimination under Title VII, the Federal anti-discrimination law, she cannot appeal further than the Supreme Court of Iowa.
Additional Sources:
http://verdict.justia.com/2013/01/08/when-good-courts-go-bad
The Iowa Supreme Court has concluded that being fired for being too sexy a woman is not sexual discrimination in the workplace. Since that day, many have attempted to understand the rationale behind the court’s decision. Many are left asking if the decision is a misrepresentation of anti-discrimination law.
Basics of the Case
The plaintiff, Nelson, was a woman working for the defendant, Knight, at a dental office. She had a history as an excellent employee. The two had been exchanging some sexual innuendo by text message. Knight one day began to complain that Nelson’s appearance was “too attractive”. He claimed to worry that his marriage and professionalism might be endangered by Nelson’s appearance. He decided to fire her on that basis. She then claimed unlawful termination based on sexual discrimination. Her case was appealed to the Supreme Court. The Court, in a rare 7-0 decision, sided with Knight.
Feelings, not Sex
The court reasoned that Knight’s decision was not discriminatory because it was based on “feelings” and not on gender. Knight stated that his decision was motivated by feelings and concern for his marriage, but it is also reasonable to assume that such feelings stemmed from his sexual attractions, and those attractions must logically have arisen because Nelson was a woman. Since it can be presumed that Knight was not homosexual, this situation logically could not have been an issue if Nelson was a man.
The court based much of this decision on the idea that Knight kept on all female staff and replaced Neslon with another female employee. The court seems to have interpreted this action to mean that Knight is not discriminating for the position based on gender. Many believe that reasoning to be a misinterpretation of the essence of the law.
A Dangerous Precedent
This case sets some very dangerous precedents for future discrimination cases. The idea that decisions based on sexually motivated feelings toward employees is not actionable is likely to allow many a lawyer to use this leverage in court. It also blurs the very idea of gender discrimination. If Knight can successfully fire an employee for being “too attractive”, can other employees be fired for similar non-job related reasons of appearance?
This precedent will remain, at least in the case of Iowa law. Since Nelson did not sue for discrimination under Title VII, the Federal anti-discrimination law, she cannot appeal further than the Supreme Court of Iowa.
Additional Sources:
http://verdict.justia.com/2013/01/08/when-good-courts-go-bad

 

Bookmark This Article:
| del.icio.us: Delicious | Digg: Digg | Technorati: Technorati | Newsvine: Seed this article | Reddit: Add to Reddit | Furl: Add to furl | |
| Stumble Upon: Stumble This Article | Yahoo!: YahooMyWeb | Google: Google |

 

Legal•Info: Related Articles


Fatal error: Uncaught Error: Call to undefined function similar_posts() in /home/legalinfo/public_html/legal-news/wp-content/themes/default/single.php:125 Stack trace: #0 /home/legalinfo/public_html/legal-news/wp-includes/template-loader.php(78): include() #1 /home/legalinfo/public_html/legal-news/wp-blog-header.php(19): require_once('/home/legalinfo...') #2 /home/legalinfo/public_html/legal-news/index.php(17): require('/home/legalinfo...') #3 {main} thrown in /home/legalinfo/public_html/legal-news/wp-content/themes/default/single.php on line 125