ABA Journal


Labor & Employment

Columnists Decry Iowa Ruling Finding No Sex Bias in Woman Fired for Being Too Irresistible

Jan 2, 2013, 04:31 pm CST


My reading of the opinion shows it's a bit more complicated than just Dr. Knight's inability to control himself (maybe, possibly, someday in the future). The bigger factor seems to have been his wife saying "ditch her." And the threat to his marriage/wife telling him is more like a nepotism case, and courts have held for many years that nepotism (while slimy and rude) is a legitimate defense to a discrimination claim.

Is this decision "fair" to the Plaintiff? Probably not. But it's a fair interpretation of the statute, and it's up to the legislature to help flesh out the statute if they do intend for these kinds of situations to be covered.

PS: The Plaintiff had some really, really good evidence of sexual harassment, but waited too long to bring those claims. So this was all she had left - "he fired me because I'm a woman." And since he hired a woman to replace her (indeed, I think the facts say he's only ever had female hygenists) that's a hard sell on a straight gender discrimination claim.

By RecentGrad on 2013 01 02, 5:02 pm CST

Nothing in the reporting suggests there was a "for cause" employment contract. if she was "at will" then the dentist should have fired her without giving her a reason.

By AndytheLawyer on 2013 01 02, 6:57 pm CST

equal protection does not protect one from the consequences of attire and appearance.
if she were fired for bad hygene would it have gone this high in the system?

By mac d on 2013 01 02, 7:41 pm CST

Why is there even a debate? She wasn't fired for being a woman, she was fired for being an attractive woman. I don't know of any state that extends workplace discrimination laws to questions of individual appearance.

By James Pollock on 2013 01 02, 7:53 pm CST

I wonder if being "too beautiful" counts as a disability...

By Another Andy on 2013 01 02, 8:45 pm CST

@5 I believe the words used above were "too irresistible" rather than "too beautiful." This is very much a personal feeling on the part of Dr. Knight owing, no doubt, to the fact that he and the Plaintiff worked together for 10 years and Dr. Knight became attracted to her on a personal level.

By Yankee on 2013 01 02, 9:50 pm CST

The dentist was no doubt driven to extraction . . .

By Marc on 2013 01 03, 12:35 am CST

I'll bet he's looking down in the mouth now.

No. 1's brief summary is a bizillion times more informative than all the crap the idiot columnists wrote trying to make this case something it wasn't.

By B. McLeod on 2013 01 03, 12:54 am CST

The irresistible attraction doctrine. Has a good sound to it, like it was an attractive nuisance's more seductive yet much more dangerous cousin.

By NoleLaw on 2013 01 03, 2:25 pm CST

HELP WANTED: Dental hygienist with 3+ yrs. exp. for est. practice. FT, 8:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. M-F. Benefits. Must be ugly.

By BMF on 2013 01 04, 4:07 am CST

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