Iowa court sides with dentist who fired 'too attractive' assistant

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Iowa Supreme Court justices have affirmed a ruling that an Iowa dentist did not illegally discriminate against a female assistant when he fired her because she was so attractive that he was afraid he might try to have an affair with her, the Des Moines Register reports.

Fort Dodge dentist James Knight fired Melissa Nelson in 2010 due to his irresistible attraction to her, and when she sued, judges ruled that the dentist did not commit illegal gender discrimination, the newspaper reported.

Their reasoning: The dentist's action was based on specific emotions tied to a specific relationship and not on his attitude about an entire gender, the Register reports.

The Iowa high court's latest unanimous ruling filed Friday includes a 17-page decision also siding with the dentist, noting that “the issue before us is not whether a jury could find that Dr. Knight treated Nelson badly. We are asked to decide only if a genuine fact issue exists as to whether Dr. Knight engaged in unlawful gender discrimination when he fired Nelson at the request of his wife. For the reasons previously discussed, we believe this conduct did not amount to unlawful discrimination ... ”

Nelson had worked for Knight for 10 years, and she told CNN last year that she has no idea why her boss suddenly fired her. Knight had argued that Nelson had been wearing clothing that was too tight. Court documents say the dentist's wife, who also worked in the office, wanted Nelson fired.

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