Actually, that’s not true, I’m over 40 years so I’m protected from discrimination based on age…so there’s that.
But now, I have a box I want to self-select for my own employee rights ~ “Irresistibility.” Yep, me and Melissa Nelson, she’s the Rosa Parks for hotties. Certainly you’re familiar with the story, a dental assistant was terminated from her employment after almost 11 years of fine performance, with no reason other than her irrisistable allure to the gentleman running the office.
A few thoughts:
1. It’s not insignificant to mention that the Dentist’s wife also worked in the same practice. It’s clear from the testimony of both parties involved that there was at the very least a history of non-professional communications between Dr. Knight and Mrs. Nelson. Wives do not like said communications, nor should they allow them to continue, so Dr. Knight made a decision with the specific intention of repairing/restoring his marriage.
2. Iowa is an “employment–at-will“ state, meaning that an employer or employee may terminate the relationship at any time, for any reason, or for no reason at all. Mrs. Nelson was given severance (only one month, which is probably why we are now reading about this story) and was replaced by another female, so gender discrimination is not an issue. We can only assume that Dr. Knight has hired a much less appealing employee in his replacement profiling.
3. The Iowa State Supreme Court was asked to rule on the legality of the termination. Much is being made of the fact that the 7-member court is made up entirely of men, logically assuming this made the decision gender biased. Please reference point #1 again ~ Dr. Knight does not make this decision without “encouragement” from the wife.
I choose to read this story as a lesson learned for the good Doctor. As a man, I can speak for the penchant for idiocy men have when shooting from the hip and/or “harmlessly” flirting. Dr. Knight is fortunate…his wife smelled a hint of trouble, and she stopped it before it became real trouble. Should this situation have remained unchecked, you can be certain that the fallout would have been much worse in the not-too-distant future.
Certainly not a popular decision and an easy one to ridicule, but also a pro-active measure to spare a company from a sexual harassment claim, and a marriage from a messy divorce.
John “Whit” Whitaker is the Founder and Managing Partner of HR Hardball™. To send Mr. Knows-it-All an email, or to submit your own thoughts for publishing on this site: