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ANALYSIS: Iowa Court Rules "Irresistible" Reasonable Reason for Job Loss, not Gender Discrimination
Using her "attractiveness" as a description for the alleged sexual discrimination, the court ruled that the dentist’s decision did not fault the at-will employment doctrine. In fact, the dentist had a minister speak to and console the fired woman and her husband.
Some comments stress this all male judge ruling stings in the stereotypical, discriminatory , sexist belief that how a woman dresses (or undresses) can make her responsible for rape. Under that logic, a hot-headed person could trigger a defense to their own murder. The rage became so hostile that the shooter could do nothing but take out his weapon and relieve his violent, hateful feelings.
The legal ruling points to efforts of attempted politeness. Further, the dentist and the assistant were friends. They both had children. They both texted each other.
As commentators pointed out, it is surprising that an interpersonal boundaries discussion did not occur from the mediator of choice, the pastor.
Further, the dentists’ wife who claimed that the assistant was distracting her husband from his marriage bears responsibility too --- she also worked in the office.
Instead of the male dentist firing her, could it be he was too complicit to an apparently very insecure spouse?
As one Post commentator stated: “So many people here are trying to put this whole thing on Dr. McCreepy. His wife is no doubt equally at fault. Her jealousy and insecurity cost someone a job. Karma will take care of both of them.”
Ian McCulloch glared, “Good to know Iowa has the same sensibilities about women as Afganistan.”
Related to the “responsibility” excuse, Solson wrote: “So once again the woman is at fault? Like that old rape excuse...she was just asking for it by wearing that short dress. It sounds like the problem was the bulge (referred to in the ruling) . How about he could've taken salt peter? After all the problem was his- not that the girl was attractive. In the interest of saving his marriage? ... Women of Iowa I hope none of you are attractive or your job is in jeopardy. All men on the jury? This sounds like the 1800's and the ruling is from that era. Why is it that men seem to always want to punish women? Latent feelings against their mothers? Men of Iowa come into the new century, get therapy!”
What’s more astounding about this case --- it’s a tiny family business. And, the replacement was not a man. So , who is the judge of attractiveness in the resume of the new hire?
For that matter, how many average or below average male and females have received disrespect because of their perceived appearance? When keeping tally at those free wi-fi sites, how many manager’s will step up and insist that a celebrity or other attractive person leave if they don’t purchase enough fast food or coffee?
As a Huffington Post reader stated, “I can only hope that all affected parties realize how important acting, dressing, and relating to others professionally is, even in a small family business.”
Duh… I can only hope that this decision focuses on not simply the business world. It’s a reflection of the disassociation of interpersonal relationships. What happens if the dentist has an attractive patient? How about an attractive sales professional? Or, an unattractive homeless person that asks for a buck for a cup of coffee on a rainy day?
Although instituting a “dress code” has been suggested, the contents and style of it would be an invention from the employer, the husband and wife. So, in the "code," what is and is not professional? This seems more of a case about mixing working place friendships with professionalism. It’s also the sad state of defining where opposite sex friendship, working together and helping each other ends and thoughts of ‘cheating’ begins.
Opps, and people are punished or praised for ‘thoughts’ , not actual conduct daily. This treads on greater stereotypes: You can look like you are thinking rebellion and be imprisoned. You can express an opinion and be checked out as potentially a terrorist.
Finally, using the entertainment industry as an tricky exception, perception of appearance is the art of the casting director or subordinate.
Before reading a provided PDF to the full court opinion consider:
“If a modeling agency, which makes its profits by having attractive women, can fire someone for not being hot enough, a dentist,who makes his profits by staying focused, can fire a co-worker who distracts him. If she's as hot as she sounds I'm sure she can work as a stripper. This would be a win-win for everyone: the dentist stays focused at work, keeps his wife, gets to see his hot ex-employee dancing, and the dental assistant makes more money. The only loser in this case is the dental assistant's lawyer though if he was male I'm sure it was time well spent.”
That presumes the attractive woman would want to be a stripper. That assumes she does not represent "family values," although the opinion stated she has a family.
As another commentator wrote, “You are from Iowa no doubt.... Not every good looking person wants to be an exhibitionist. Now get back in your cave …." Or, better yet, what has happened to society... when a disagreement occurs, some lawyer up , others pull a weapon, others .... (fill in the blank).
Add this unwise ruling to the forum on conduct. What went wrong? Who's more at fault? Would the nine Supreme's dare touch this one? Should government even have a hand in this? Maybe, the attractive assistant could have read the tea leaves and found a dentist who did not have an insecure wife with whom to work. Or, found a boss who was single. Then, who would complain?
Click below for opinions from the Huffington Post on the topic, which have over 5,000 shares.
- Full Iowa Supreme Court Ruling (113.49 KB)