Fired for being a threat to the boss' marriage?

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Fired for being a threat to the boss' marriage?

'Irresistible' worker fired in Iowa: 'I don't think it's fair' - CNN.com

To summarize: The boss' wife demanded he fire a dental assistant because she posed a threat to their marriage. He did. She sued. Courts sided with him.

The debate: Who is in the right? Would you consider it to be sexual harassment if she had made that claim?

mommytoMR.FACE's picture
Joined: 04/10/09
Posts: 781

Iowa is an employment at will state so the courts were in the right. I'm confused as to where there was sexual harassment?

Joined: 04/12/03
Posts: 1686

At one point, Knight told Nelson that "if she saw his pants bulging, she would know her clothing was too revealing," the decision read.

At another point, in response to an alleged comment Nelson made about the infrequency of her sex life, Knight responded:

hat's like having a Lamborghini in the garage and never driving it."

Nelson and Knight, both married with children, also exchanged text messages to each other outside of work. Neither objected to the texting.

Nelson filed a lawsuit, arguing that Knight fired her because of her gender. She did not contend that he committed sexual harassment.

Because he is the boss, she could have said she feared she would be terminated if she didn't go along with it or complained about the messages/comments prior to her firing.

Joined: 08/17/04
Posts: 2226

I'm fairly ignorant on hiring/firing practices outside of Mass. and this floors me that she could be fired because of how he reacts to her. Like he just can't control it and it is her problem? What year is this?

Joined: 05/23/12
Posts: 680

Jessica, Mass is also an At Will Employment State.

It doesn't really matter how bizarre the reason is so the Court had no way to find it unlawful.

any hiring is presumed to be "at will"; that is, the employer is free to discharge individuals "for good cause, or bad cause, or no cause at all," and the employee is equally free to quit, strike, or otherwise cease work.[1]
At-will employment - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Joined: 08/17/04
Posts: 2226

I know that but I've never heard of people doing this kind of junk here. Like...it's not used or at least not in my circles. Probably because well I think it would be viewed as wrongful termination as I would have liked to have seen here.

I know they said it wasn't wrongful because it wasn't based on her sex but I disagree. If she wasn't female he wouldn't have had the concern about been "turned on" (at least unless bisexual).

AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6568

He doesn't have to give a reason to fire her in an "at will" situation. I would not want to own a business that once I hired someone, I could not then decide to fire them without having to justify myself to someone else.

Joined: 04/12/03
Posts: 1686

"AlyssaEimers" wrote:

He doesn't have to give a reason to fire her in an "at will" situation. I would not want to own a business that once I hired someone, I could not then decide to fire them without having to justify myself to someone else.

Even in "at will" situations, there are some reasons you can't fire an employee. You can't fire an employee solely because she is a woman. That's the reason she filed suit. She lost because the court didn't view it as due to being a woman.

Joined: 08/17/04
Posts: 2226

Yeah I see the court's point I just don't completely agree.

And yes, there are still reasons why you can't fire someone.

Joined: 03/08/03
Posts: 3189

I actually think it's reasonable as long as he provides her with good references and even helps her get work. He's trying to save his marriage, and his attraction to her is obviously very strong. It's not her fault, but it's reality. The dental assistant/dentist relationship can be rather intimate, both personally and physically as they are both hovering over a patient in close quarters.

If I were working that closely with someone I was that attracted to, I would find a way to change things so I wasn't working with him. Ten years is an awfully long time to figure it out, though, and the texting is clearly an issue, but if his attraction is that powerful then his first obligation is to his marriage, and it's not like he can quit his own practice.

But the right thing to do is to give her glowing recommendations and help her find work.

Joined: 05/31/06
Posts: 4780

"AlyssaEimers" wrote:

He doesn't have to give a reason to fire her in an "at will" situation. I would not want to own a business that once I hired someone, I could not then decide to fire them without having to justify myself to someone else.

Well, like it or not its pretty much like this already. Firing someone is incredibly risky. Though he lost the case, he paid tens of thousands in legal fees to defend his right to fire her. Most wise employers just settle out of court to make the person go away. My Dad is a CEO, and when they have to fire people they almost expect a lawsuit, even with a documented record of poor performance. He's encountered everything from its because I was black, or fat, or depressed, or an alcoholic, or whatever. They truly were sh*tty workers, with documented sh*tty records..........but its cheaper to offer them 10 grand or whatever to just go away than it is to pay the legal fees to take it to court.

AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6568

"Potter75" wrote:

Well, like it or not its pretty much like this already. Firing someone is incredibly risky. Though he lost the case, he paid tens of thousands in legal fees to defend his right to fire her. Most wise employers just settle out of court to make the person go away. My Dad is a CEO, and when they have to fire people they almost expect a lawsuit, even with a documented record of poor performance. He's encountered everything from its because I was black, or fat, or depressed, or an alcoholic, or whatever. They truly were sh*tty workers, with documented sh*tty records..........but its cheaper to offer them 10 grand or whatever to just go away than it is to pay the legal fees to take it to court.

That is terrible.

mom3girls's picture
Joined: 01/09/07
Posts: 1537

In my life before kids I did all the hiring and firing for the store I managed, Oregon is an at will employer, and it was nearly impossible to fire people. I had an employee that was never on time, would miss shifts without calling in and just didnt come in and open the store one time while we were on our honeymoon. I went through all the paperwork for the termination process and she still sued.

Joined: 03/08/03
Posts: 3189

I agree, firing people who are TERRIBLE is really hard. I had an awful situation the year before last with someone who was lazy and slow, who came in late every day, didn't complete work on time, made a ton of mistakes that were published live, used incorrect terminology to the point that it confused everybody dealing wit us, and would even say things IN FRONT OF HR about how he didn't do certain assignments because they "took a lot out of" him, and STILL it took about 6 months to even give him the 90-day warning. (Yes, 90 days.)

He didn't sue, but the company was so jittery about it that it took mountains of meetings, paperwork, and more just to get as far as we did. (He ended up resigning just as his 90 days was up.)

Alissa_Sal's picture
Joined: 06/29/06
Posts: 6427

It may be legal, but it seems incredibly unfair. He can't contol himself, so she no longer has a job? That seems pretty one sided.

Under normal circumstances, I would say that if he is having such a hard time controlling himself, maybe he should quit. But since this was a dental office, I am assuming that he was the dentist (and owned the practice.) Obviously if that's the case, he can't quit (without closing the dental office.) However, if he is not the business owner, then I definitely think that if she's not doing anything unprofessional and he simply can't control his attraction to her, then it's on him to quit even if he is her superior. If you can't control yourself, YOU should be the one to suffer the consequences, not an employee.

Joined: 03/08/03
Posts: 3189

"Alissa_Sal" wrote:

It may be legal, but it seems incredibly unfair. He can't contol himself, so she no longer has a job? That seems pretty one sided.

Under normal circumstances, I would say that if he is having such a hard time controlling himself, maybe he should quit. But since this was a dental office, I am assuming that he was the dentist (and owned the practice.) Obviously if that's the case, he can't quit (without closing the dental office.) However, he he is not the business owner, then I definitely think that if she's not doing anything unprofessional and he simply can't control his attraction to her, then it's on him to quit even if he is her superior. If you can't control yourself, YOU should be the one to suffer the consequences, not an employee.

I assumed he owns the business, being the dentist.

Alissa_Sal's picture
Joined: 06/29/06
Posts: 6427

"freddieflounder101" wrote:

I assumed he owns the business, being the dentist.

I assume that as well. I'm just saying, under a circumstance where the boss wasn't the business owner (like, if MY boss found ME irresistable) then I would think that it would be on them to quit, rather than firing me. In this case, if he is the business owner, obvs he can't quit.

Joined: 05/23/12
Posts: 680

I don't know why people are making a big deal about it. She didn't even have to get a reason I guess or he could have made up one that isn't as bizarre sounding - as long as it didn't indicate discrimination. Hire and Fire and Quit at will..is just that. If the cards were turned and we were the employees somewhere and couldn't quit we'd be fuming mad.

And I think employers need more protections against the cost of lawsuits. Whoever loses should have to pay ALL costs from start to finish. So if the employee starts one of these lawsuits they gotta pay each and every nickel all along the way. That will help control this maybe.

Joined: 05/23/12
Posts: 680

"Alissa_Sal" wrote:

I assume that as well. I'm just saying, under a circumstance where the boss wasn't the business owner (like, if MY boss found ME irresistable) then I would think that it would be on them to quit, rather than firing me. In this case, if he is the business owner, obvs he can't quit.

If something creates a difficult work environment and they are just two working together so much then something has to change. I would hate to have to go to work where I couldn't concentrate on my work due to any other reason. That reason should be eliminated or else find a new job. But like you said, if you're the boss then obviously you are not going to be the one leaving.

The truth is that this is such a common problem. So many people try to relocate, find new jobs, etc to avoid office temptations that really do put a damper on marriages. I'd totally leave my job if I felt I was having a tough time with these sort of issues.

Joined: 03/08/03
Posts: 3189

"myyams" wrote:

I'd totally leave my job if I felt I was having a tough time with these sort of issues.

Agreed. My marriage is much more important than my job. There are other jobs out there but no other Daves for me!

AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6568

"Potter75" wrote:

Well, like it or not its pretty much like this already. Firing someone is incredibly risky. Though he lost the case, he paid tens of thousands in legal fees to defend his right to fire her. Most wise employers just settle out of court to make the person go away. My Dad is a CEO, and when they have to fire people they almost expect a lawsuit, even with a documented record of poor performance. He's encountered everything from its because I was black, or fat, or depressed, or an alcoholic, or whatever. They truly were sh*tty workers, with documented sh*tty records..........but its cheaper to offer them 10 grand or whatever to just go away than it is to pay the legal fees to take it to court.

"mom3girls" wrote:

In my life before kids I did all the hiring and firing for the store I managed, Oregon is an at will employer, and it was nearly impossible to fire people. I had an employee that was never on time, would miss shifts without calling in and just didnt come in and open the store one time while we were on our honeymoon. I went through all the paperwork for the termination process and she still sued.

"freddieflounder101" wrote:

I agree, firing people who are TERRIBLE is really hard. I had an awful situation the year before last with someone who was lazy and slow, who came in late every day, didn't complete work on time, made a ton of mistakes that were published live, used incorrect terminology to the point that it confused everybody dealing wit us, and would even say things IN FRONT OF HR about how he didn't do certain assignments because they "took a lot out of" him, and STILL it took about 6 months to even give him the 90-day warning. (Yes, 90 days.)

He didn't sue, but the company was so jittery about it that it took mountains of meetings, paperwork, and more just to get as far as we did. (He ended up resigning just as his 90 days was up.)

Quoted for reference in another debate.

Joined: 05/31/06
Posts: 4780

I'm not sure why you are quoting this. None of this has anything to do with "the government". Juries of ones peers or as$holes who are sue happy or entitled or lazy or bitter have nothing to do with the government. Don't you understand the difference?