Are You Too Sexy For Work?

man staring at naked woman

You can be fired for being too attractive working in a bank, a law firm, and now, a dental office.

Too sexy? Too bad, because that means you’re fired.

That’s what happened to Melissa Nelson who, after working as a dental assistant for 10 years, was fired by her boss for being what he (creepily) referred to as 'irresistible'.

On Friday, an all-male Supreme Court ruled in favor of the decision made by a lower state court that a male employer could fire his female employee if he deemed her to be an 'irresistible attraction' at work. The court affirmed that Nelson’s employer, Dr. James Knight, was well within his legal rights to do so.

So was there a secret workplace affair going on? Nope. In fact, according to court documents, the two never had any kind of romantic relationship. However, almost two years before she was fired, Dr. Knight started finding himself distracted by her tight-fitted clothing and even told her that “if she saw his pants bulging, she would know her clothing was too revealing,” as the justices wrote in court documents.

It was also around this time that the two began exchanging mostly boring text messages about work matters, their kids’ after-school activities and … orgasms?

Not exactly your typical office memo: Nelson recalled received a text from her boss asking her how often she experienced an orgasm. Nelson never responded. Regardless, that was when Dr. Knight’s wife found out about the texting and demanded that Nelson be canned.

On Jan. 4, 2010 she was let go with one month’s severance pay. For her, the news came as a shock.

“I think it is completely wrong,” Nelson said, who still denies that her work wear was inappropriate. “I think it is sending a message that men can do whatever they want in the work force.”

“We do think the Iowa Supreme Court got it completely right,” Stuart Cochrane, an attorney for Dr. Knight said. “Our position has always been Mrs. Nelson was never terminated because of her gender, she was terminated because of concerns her behavior was not appropriate in the workplace. She’s an attractive lady. Dr. Knight found her behavior and dress to be inappropriate.”

"Although people act for a variety of reasons, it is very common for women to be targeted for discrimination because of their sexual attractiveness or supposed lack of sexual attractiveness. That is discrimination based on sex,” Nelson’s attorney Paige Fiedler said in a statement to ABC News. “Nearly every woman in Iowa understands this because we have experienced it for ourselves." Keep reading ...

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