Too Hot to Work Here

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            Women face discrimination even in the most unusual circumstances. According to the article “Editorial: End the all-male court” by DI Editorial Board, “Melissa Nelson, a dental assistant in Webster County who was fired in 2010 for bring ‘irresistible attractive’ and, thus, a threat to her boss’s marriage”. Nelson had been working for Dr. James Knight at his dental office for over ten years. They had a good relationship where they text each other after work hours regarding work, but at some point the texting changed and Nelson started texting her non work related and inappropriate things. According to “All-male Iowa Supreme Court rules employer can legally fire someone for being too ‘attractive’” by Kay Steiger,

             “Dr. Knight acknowledges he once told Nelson that if she saw his pants bulging, she would know her clothing was too revealing. On another occasion, Dr. Knight texted  Nelson saying the shirt she had worn that day was too tight. After Nelson responded that        she did not think he was being fair, Dr. Knight replied that it was a good thing Nelson did not wear tight pants too because then he would get it coming and going. Dr. Knight also recalls that after Nelson allegedly made a statement regarding infrequency in her sex life, he responded to her, “[T]hat’s like having a Lamborghini in the garage and never driving it.” Nelson recalls that Dr. Knight once texted her to ask how often she experienced an orgasm. Nelson did not answer the text. However, Nelson does not remember ever telling Dr. Knight not to text her or telling him that she was offended” (http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/07/12/all-male-iowa-supreme-court-rules-employer-can-legally-fire-someone-for-being-too-attractive/).

            After Knights wife discovered that they were texting each other, she demanded him to fire her. Knight fired her, because to him, the fact that she was too attractive caused a threat to his marriage. But why is it that after ten years her appearance became a problem? His office is employed with an all-female staff, what message is he sending them? If the roles were in reverse, this type of discrimination would not occur. Overall, words such as disgraceful, shocking, offensive, and even despicable still are unable to express the way I felt after reading this article. This article was extremely shocking because I believed times have changed, but in the end we’re still facing discrimination. Instead of progressing, I feel like discrimination has a deeper meaning now, it’s no longer just about race issues; it now evolved into something much larger. (http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/07/12/all-male-iowa-supreme-court-rules-employer-can-legally-fire-someone-for-being-too-attractive/ ).

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Nelson took Knight to court which proceeded to The State Supreme court. In Iowa, the Supreme Court system is all-male. The way their system works is through the progress where the male nominees are appointed to the court from a list which is submitted by the State Judicial Nomination Commission. In order for them to be considered as a nominee, they must license attorneys in Iowa. They can also serve for eight years; if they get nominated again they can stay for a longer period of time, but must be retired at the age of 72 (http://www.iowacourts.gov/supreme_court/justices/). According to “All-male Iowa Supreme Court rules employer can legally fire someone for being too ‘attractive’” by Kay Steiger, “despite the state’s impressive early history of promoting women lawyers, Iowa is one of only three states without a female justice on its court of last resort. Furthermore, only 21 percent of judges appointed to the Iowa Court of Appeals have been women” (http://www.dailyiowan.com/2013/07/15/Opinions/33937.html). This not only demonstrates gender discrimination, but it also provides the evidence of how even with events such as these, regardless of how much authority they have, an individual still faces discrimination.

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In conclusion, “the court said such firings do not count as illegal sex discrimination because they are motivated by feelings, not gender” (http://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/iowas-all-male-supreme-court-firing-of-woman-for-being-too-attractive-was-legal.php). The all-male Iowa’s Supreme Court ruled that it was not gender/sex discrimination, because it had nothing to do with Nelson being a female it was due to the fact of motivation of feelings, where the boundaries of a boss and assistant were being cross. Therefore, what does this event mean? Does it mean that because the fact that emotions was added to the equation someone has to get fired? If we were to switch the situation around, where a co-worker is unattractive and because of this, other individuals are unable to concentrate on their work; does this give them the right to fire them? Regardless of the possibilities of different scenarios, the outcome of this situation is discrimination.

Sonia Vera- Blog #4

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