It really isn’t easy being beautiful. Just ask Melissa Nelson, who got fired for being too goodlooking … and then had that decision upheld by the Iowa Supreme Court.
The Iowa Supreme Court stood by a lower court’s ruling this week when they announced that James Knight, a dentist in Fort Dodge, Iowa, could legally fire his assistant, Ms. Nelson, for being “too attractive” and making him worry that he’d try to “start an affair” with her. Dr. Knight feared his attraction to Ms. Nelson posed a threat to his marriage.
Because, you know, Ms. Nelson couldn’t have said “no” to this clown and had them leave it at that. Apparently, despite being evolved enough to get a job in dentistry, Dr. Knight is still ruled by only his most primordial instincts and urges–and if Ms. Nelson was in his office (where she wore scrubs), he was going to try to do any number of things that would end in a sexual harassment suit and an angry wife, so instead of, say, getting therapy for his own clear self-control and misogynist issues, he fired an otherwise perfectly good employee.
Aside from the obvious victim blaming implications at play in this ruling–delivered, one should note, by an all-male court–it sets very dangerous, unsettling precedents for employers later on.
Ms. Nelson’s attorney, Paige Fiedler, had pointed out to the court in January when she requested a reconsideration of the initial ruling that this decision could potentially allow employees to be fired on basis of skin color, cup size, eye color or any other number of physical attributes deemed either “irresistible” or unsavory to men (and vice versa).
Look, I get it–it’s hard to be productive when you’re distracted by someone young and hot. That’s why I never bothered hiring Harry Styles as my personal assistant in the first place. But I also recognize that it’s my own issue of objectification and a lack of self-control, rather than Hazza’s beauty, that’s the real problem, and I wouldn’t dare be unfair nor unjust enough to punish him for my own problems. I just let him go on to become a multimillionaire in the biggest boy band in the world.
And this is all aside from the fact that, based on how skeevy Dr. Knight sounds, Ms. Nelson likely would have shunned his advances anyway, as she’s happily married and 20 years his junior. If she rejected his advances and was still perceived as a threat to Dr. Knight’s marriage, then Dr. Knight should be perceived as a threat to society. Period.
If a cute assistant was that big of a threat to Dr. Knight’s marriage, chances are it had issues going a lot deeper than Ms. Nelson’s admittedly pretty face–and the Iowa Supreme Court has some real issues, too: Namely, putting the institution of a marriage that sounded doomed to begin with above a woman’s right to work without being sexually harassed or discriminated against.
I won’t lie to you–sometimes situations like this make me thrilled to be a telecommuter: Ms. Nelson had to deal with that nonsense and wear pants. Not cool at all, Iowa. Not cool at all.