Iowa Supreme Court Rules Against Irresistible Employee

She Claimed she Was Fired for Being too Attractive

Melissa Nelson
Melissa Nelson

By Dawn Cranfield

Iowa Supreme Court Rules Against Irresistible Employee Claiming She Was Fired for Being too Attractive

An Iowa dentist can rest easy with the knowledge his marriage is no longer being threatened by his sexy dental assistant; and the Iowa Supreme Court backed his decision to terminate her employment.  Melissa Nelson was fired for being irresistible to Dr. James Knight after working in his practice for over 10 years.

Nelson began working as an assistant for Knight in 1999, and was terminated by him in early 2010.  According to Nelson, Knight was a father-figure to her and she was surprised by the termination.

However, Knight’s wife, who also works at the practice, insisted on the firing lawsuitwhen she found troubling text messages between the two.  She was understandably upset when she found out they had been discussing the infrequency of Nelson’s sex life; to which Knight responded “that’s like having a Lamborghini in the garage and never driving it.”  (

In addition, they sent each other texts regarding the nature of her clothing; “at one point, Knight told Nelson that ‘if she saw his pants bulging, she would know her clothing was too revealing.’  Nelson denied that what she wore was out of place, and when asked by CNN’s Lemon whether she dressed appropriately at work, she said she wore scrubs.” (

The doctor and his wife debated their decision to terminate the woman; Knight stated she was the best assistant he had ever employed.  However, after conferring with their pastor they determined she was a detriment to their marriage and it was best if they dismiss her.

A few things bothered me about this case; not the fact that the Iowa Supreme Court ruled against this woman, I think it was the right decision.  My consternation comes from Nelson herself; how was it she felt Dr. Knight was a father-figure to her but he knew about her infrequent sex life?  I would certainly not speak to my father about my sex life; much less complain about the regularity of my escapades.

Giving Nelson the benefit of the doubt; if she were so bothered by the text messages (which she does not complain about), then wouldn’t we have seen a sexual harassment suit instead of a complaint after she was fired?  Instead, she engages in texting her boss, only then when they are both caught by the wife and asked to leave while it is still innocent flirting; she feels she has a claim.

While on a job interview for a family owned business, the wife told me about her husband’s wandering eye; she looked at me squarely and said, “Your resume is great, and you are pretty, so I’m happy you are heavy, or I wouldn’t be able to give you the job.”  I did get the job, but I was a little surprised she would say something like that during an interview; however, my first inclination was not to rush out and sue her.  I was fat, but not litigious.

Being very outgoing, loquacious, and a people-person, many have commented I should be in sales.  One year, I was working in the purchasing department of a valve manufacturing company; most of my contacts were international and thought I was a man, so they addressed me as Mr. Dawn.  I had to suck it up because I understood they preferred to do business with a man.

One day I was out to lunch with the Human Resources Manager and we were discussing the idea of me being a sales representative, not that I was remotely interested in the position; however, it was an intriguing idea.  Still, when she said, “Oh, you’ll never be in sales in this company, there is no way they would let a woman in their ‘club’,” I was a little taken aback; the salesmen in our company made the most salary, the largest bonuses, and traveled the world.  Well, I thought, que sera sera, whatever will be, will be.  I did not think I should file a lawsuit because life was unfair.

unfairSo, if you are so “irresistible” that your boss finds you attractive, and you have been flirting with him; perhaps, you should look inward as to your participation in the matter as well, instead of clogging up the legal system and looking for your piece of the judicial pie.


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