“Can a male employer terminate a female employee because the employer's wife, due to no fault of the employee, is concerned about the nature of the relationship between the employer and the employee?” wrote Justice Edward M. Mansfield, on behalf of the high court.
Apparently, that answer is yes.
And because of that, I think those seven male justices (plus, Dr. Knight’s wife) all need a reminder that men and women alike assume responsibility over their own sexuality. So why should Melissa Nelson be fired from her job for an affair she never had with her boss?
When her husband tried to reason with Dr. Knight, the dentist told him that he “feared he would have an affair with her down the road if he did not fire her.”
First of all, I think it’s pretty presumptuous on the dentist’s part to assume that his assistant would want to have an affair just as much as he did. Allegedly, the boss was the one instigating these more-than-friendly text messages.
Second of all, why are his apparently uncontrollable sexual urges suddenly her problem? Shouldn’t he be able to control himself?
And forget about trying to answer the question of what’s too sexy for the office. Like, should we go through our closets and throw out our pencil skirts, stockings, and high heels for fear of tempting our bosses? Doesn’t this just mean that we as females will be held responsible for the sexual wants of our male bosses? And if so, should this go both ways? I sure don’t want to see my boss come to work wearing shrunken t-shirts n à la Simon Cowell and leopard tights. Isn’t that 'distracting'?
Does this mean that my fitted Ann Taylor business suit will be out of the picture? What about make-up? Or my hair? Call me crazy, but doesn’t this sound like sexual harassment on his part? Gender discrimination? A hostile work environment? Something illegal? This sounds to me like a way for an employer to terminate an employee without just cause. Why should Nelson be blamed for her boss’ marital problems?
These judges are sending the message that men cannot be held responsible for their own sexual desires and it’s up to women to somehow be sensitive to that in their work wear. And isn’t this just playing into a patriarchal workplace culture?
Unless this is a scene straight out of Horrible Bosses. Then, we’ll talk.
What do you think about this case? Have you ever experienced gender discrimination at work?