Too Pretty? You’re Fired!

While Donald Trump is famous for his, “You’re Fired!” line, it is usually said because one of the contestants on his show The Apprentice has failed at achieving their given task.  As well, most employers are thankful for the continuity of trusted, longtime employees.  So why would a dentist from Iowa fire his best dental assistant that had worked with him for over 10 years? According to an article on, dentist, Dr. James Knight fired Melissa Nelson for being a threat to his marriage, and she sued him for gender discrimination.

The Iowa Supreme Court affirmed a ruling of a lower court and found that Knight was not guilty of sex discrimination by letting Nelson go.  Both parties are married with children and when Mrs. Knight discovered text messages between her husband and Nelson, she asked that he fire her. Knight gave Nelson one month’s severance pay and explained that he thought this would be the best arrangement for both of their families.

The judgment explains that Dr. Knight argued that Nelson wasn’t terminated because of her gender, as he only employs women, “but because of the nature of their relationship and the perceived threat to Dr. Knight’s marriage.” Nelson continued to argue that neither of these reasons would exist had she been a man.

The judgment continued to explain that there are several cases that set precedent for a situation such as this and that an, “employer does not engage in unlawful gender discrimination by discharging a female employee who is involved in a consensual relationship that has triggered personal jealousy.”  This principle would apply even if both the relationship and the jealousy would not have existed if the employee was male.

Apprentice contestants beware  – Melania Trump is watching.

All Rights Reserved - Copyright © 2004-2020 Hymson Goldstein Pantiliat & Lohr, PLLC
ARIZONA - 14500 N. Northsight Blvd. Suite 101 Scottsdale, AZ 85260 Phone 480-991-9077 Fax 480-443-8854
NEW YORK - 525 Chestnut Street, Suite 203 Cedarhurst, NY 11516 Phone 516-596-8366 Fax 480-443-8854