A dentist acted legally when he fired an assistant because he had grown too attracted to her and worried he would try to start an extramarital affair, the Iowa Supreme Court reaffirmed Friday in its second crack at the controversial case.
Coming to the same outcome as it did in December, but clarifying its rationale, the court found that bosses can fire employees that they and their spouses see as threats to their marriages. The court said such firings do not count as sex discrimination because they’re motivated by feelings, not gender.
The ruling upholds the dismissal of a discrimination lawsuit filed by Melissa Nelson against James Knight. The Fort Dodge dentist fired the 33-year-old Nelson — two decades his junior — after his wife learned of text messages between the two. The married mother of two had worked for Knight for 10 years, and he considered her his best assistant.