Melissa Nelson, a dental secretary, is fired for being “too attractive”

Melissa Nelson

ABC News

Melissa Nelson worked as a dental assistant for ten years.  Then one day in 2010 she was incredulously fired for being “too attractive” and a “threat” to her employer’s marriage.  Nelson said: “I think it is completely wrong.  I think it is sending a message that men can do whatever they want in the work force.”  On Friday, an all-male Iowa Supreme Court ruled in her employer’s favor!

Stuart Cochrane, James Knight (employer) said: “We do think the Iowa Supreme Court got it completely right.  Our position has always been Mrs. Nelson was never terminated because of her gender, she was terminated because of concerns her behavior was not appropriate in the workplace. She’s an attractive lady. Dr. Knight found her behavior and dress to be inappropriate.”

Nelson and Cochrane never engaged in sexual relationship.  Nelson does say that in the last eighteen months of her employment Knight made comments about her “tight” clothes.  The justices that ruled in Knight’s favor admitted that “Dr. Knight acknowledges he once told Nelson that if she saw his pants bulging, she would know her clothing was too revealing.” 

Six months before her termination the two began exchanging text messages about work and personal matters.  For example they would ask how their children were doing.  Knight one day texted Nelson asking her “how often she experiences an orgasm.”  His wife saw the message and after visiting with his pastor he decided to fire her.

Knight believes he can fire her because she had an “at-will employment.”  Meaning she could be fired at any time without notice.  The only problem is that she can’t be fired for discriminatory reasons.  He argues that this case isn’t discriminatory because she wasn’t fired for her gender.  Knight in fact had given Nelson great reviews.  He maintains it had nothing to do with her work ethic.  He was just fearful he would end having an affair with her one day.  As if she would want him.

This dentist is extremely perverted.  I agree with Nelson.  Firing someone because she is too attractive is discriminatory.  Knight made it clear it wasn’t a work related issue.  Not only do I think Nelson should win an appeal but I think she should sue for sexual harassment.  His actions are without a doubt not only unprofessional but illegal.  This guy is a creep.

What do you think?

Should she have been fired?

Do you think being “too attractive” should be considered a form of discrimination?


Twitter: @adrakontaidis & @talkrealdebate


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About adrakontaidis

A conservative who doesn't pander to the GOP.

8 responses to “Melissa Nelson, a dental secretary, is fired for being “too attractive””

  1. JF Owen says :

    Having worked in Human Resources a couple of times, I’ll say the following:

    The dentist’s actions, both in his comments and the firing, were reprehensible.

    The wife’s involvement, while understandable to some degree given her husbands texts, was a knee jerk reaction aimed at the wrong target.

    If a termination was unavoidable due to the fact that this cretin couldn’t keep his libido under control then a one month severance package was indefensible. He should have kept her on the payroll until she found a new job at equal pay.

    Having said all that, in an “at will” state, no employment laws were broken. Being attractive is not a protected class. From a purely legal standpoint, the justices made the correct call. The best legal option I see for the young lady is to switch gears and sue for sexual harassment under the hostile environment precedents. The only other avenue available might be morph it into a defamation of character suit against the wife and pursue economic damages. She might also consider suing her attorney. If he thought he could win that case in an at will state, he gave her crappy advice.

    One last point about this Lothario – I’ve been to a lot of dental offices over the years and seen a lot of cute dental hygienists. None of them looked particularly revealing in medical scrubs or a smock.

  2. mariampera says :

    I think sexual harassment is definitely a case here, but I’d be curious what her engagement with the dentist was. Just because the creeper was attracted to her doesn’t mean it was mutual–probably the opposite.

  3. Nancy says :

    Why is it that all of a sudden she is too cute. She has worked there for a number of years. Is the pervert going through MENopause or is taking Viagra now?

  4. Bill says :

    She has a case for her firing because she is definitely not too attractive.

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