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1 Dark_Falcon  Sat, Dec 22, 2012 8:10:47am
It’s incidents like these that make me roll my eyes when people talk about ‘hard work’. There are often far more important thing than the quality of your work when your employer decides you have to go.

Quoted for Truth.

I'd also note that the Iowa Supreme Court isn't the villain here. As their decision stated:

"As we have indicated above, the issue before us is not whether a jury could find that Dr. Knight treated Nelson badly," read the high court's decision.

"We are asked to decide only if a genuine fact issue exists as to whether Dr. Knight engaged in unlawful gender discrimination when he fired Nelson at the request of his wife. For the reasons previously discussed, we believe this conduct did not amount to unlawful discrimination, and therefore we affirm the judgment of the district court."

Whether or not Dr. knight was being a jerk wasn't a question before them, and as RH noted you can in fact be terminated (though not "for cause") because you are seen as disruptive to a boss's work or home environment. So while Mr. and Mrs. knight behaved badly, their actions aren't grounds for a tort.

2 philosophus invidius  Sat, Dec 22, 2012 8:48:42am

At-will employment
[Link: en.wikipedia.org...]

3 HappyWarrior  Sat, Dec 22, 2012 8:56:52am

Sheesh.

4 Obdicut  Sat, Dec 22, 2012 11:01:23am

Why we need unions, part three million.

5 aagcobb  Sat, Dec 22, 2012 11:03:01am

It sure seems like sex discrimination to me, but what do I know?

6 dragonath  Sat, Dec 22, 2012 11:49:28am

Wow, a unanimous decision.

Remember, Iowa's Supreme Court lost it's most liberal justices after the judicial recall votes in 2010.

7 Dark_Falcon  Sat, Dec 22, 2012 11:54:50am

re: #5 aagcobb

It sure seems like sex discrimination to me, but what do I know?

She wasn't fired for being a woman, she was fired because she become a liability to the owner of the dental practice. He replaced her with another woman, in point of fact. It's a raw deal, I agree, but not all raw deals are legally actionable.

8 Romantic Heretic  Sat, Dec 22, 2012 11:56:38am

re: #2 philosophus invidius

At-will employment
[Link: en.wikipedia.org...]

Also known as, "You're property. Deal."

9 Dark_Falcon  Sat, Dec 22, 2012 12:05:02pm

re: #8 Romantic Heretic

Also known as, "You're property. Deal."

No, not true. 'At Will' means that either party can terminate the employment at will. If someone 'at will' decides to leave for another job, her or his employer cannot stop them, whereas an employee under contract might well not be able to do so (at least not without notice).

10 wrenchwench  Sat, Dec 22, 2012 12:08:41pm

re: #7 Dark_Falcon

She wasn't fired for being a woman, she was fired because she become a liability to the owner of the dental practice. He replaced her with another woman, in point of fact. It's a raw deal, I agree, but not all raw deals are legally actionable.

She would not have been fired if she weren't a woman, so she was fired for being a woman. If she 'became a liability', it was through no fault of her own. I think she has a case against him for sexual harassment as well as discrimination, based on what her employer is quoted as saying to her while she was working for him.

And if I'm not mistaken, aagcobb is an attorney, and the 'but what do I know' was tongue-in-cheek.

11 wrenchwench  Sat, Dec 22, 2012 12:10:38pm

re: #2 philosophus invidius

At-will employment
[Link: en.wikipedia.org...]

re: #9 Dark_Falcon

No, not true. 'At Will' means that either party can terminate the employment at will. If someone 'at will' decides to leave for another job, her or his employer cannot stop them, whereas an employee under contract might well not be able to do so (at least not without notice).

'At will' does not mean you can fire someone based on gender. It's spelled out in philosophus invidius's link.

12 wrenchwench  Sat, Dec 22, 2012 12:13:11pm

I give up on making a joke out of 'fire' and 'too hot'. I'm sure somebody can do it though.

13 Dark_Falcon  Sat, Dec 22, 2012 12:15:41pm

re: #10 wrenchwench

She would not have been fired if she weren't a woman, so she was fired for being a woman. If she 'became a liability', it was through no fault of her own. I think she has a case against him for sexual harassment as well as discrimination, based on what her employer is quoted as saying to her while she was working for him.

And if I'm not mistaken, aagcobb is an attorney, and the 'but what do I know' was tongue-in-cheek.

She has a case for sexual harassment, I agree, but I still maintain this case was rightly decided. If Dr. Knight had been gay (Iowa allows gay marriage) and his husband had been angry about his flirting with a male employee, he would have been equally within the law in letting that man go.

Also remember that he did not fire his assistant 'for cause' and in fact paid her a month's severance and gave her a glowing recommendation. So this wasn't one of those dishonest terminations we read about (and that I've been subject to).

14 lostlakehiker  Sat, Dec 22, 2012 12:22:02pm

The dentist, given his human weakness, together with his determination to remain faithful to his marriage promises, had other options. He could close down his practice and retire. He could close down his practice, move to another place, and start anew there.

He could see where his own faults were leading. He could see that he wasn't going to master them as a better man would have.

Now what?

His best option probably was to have done what he did, but give her six months severance pay rather than one.

But the court was correct. The decision will be upheld on appeal, if it's appealed. A mirror-image case in which the dentist was married to another man, and dismissed a male employee for similar reasons, would be decided the same way. It's not "sex discrimination" to avoid a specific person to whom one is sexually attracted to the point of making a professional, businesslike relation impossible.

15 wrenchwench  Sat, Dec 22, 2012 12:25:50pm

re: #13 Dark_Falcon

re: #14 lostlakehiker

Making it about a hypothetical gay marriage and a fired man does not change my opinion that the firing was based on gender. It would still be based on gender in your hypothetical. Obviously the judges in Iowa see it differently, but that does not impress me either.

And lostlakehiker has the facts all wrong. The dentist didn't fire the woman because of the attraction. He fired her because his wife told him to.

16 Dark_Falcon  Sat, Dec 22, 2012 12:34:18pm

re: #14 lostlakehiker

LLH, this was an appeal. The case had been appealed to the Iowa state supreme court. The next step would be SCOTUS, but I doubt they'll hear it or reverse it if they do.

17 Obdicut  Sat, Dec 22, 2012 12:48:00pm

It's not sex discrimination, really. It's not much of anything. It's just another stupid reason for people to get fired or an excuse to fire people. And it's another reason we need strong unions again.

People shouldn't be fired or let go without cause. If the fault is on the side of the employer why the person can't do the job-- which it was, in this case, then the worker should be compensated for that.

18 lostlakehiker  Sat, Dec 22, 2012 3:44:08pm

re: #17 Obdicut

It's not sex discrimination, really. It's not much of anything. It's just another stupid reason for people to get fired or an excuse to fire people. And it's another reason we need strong unions again.

People shouldn't be fired or let go without cause. If the fault is on the side of the employer why the person can't do the job-- which it was, in this case, then the worker should be compensated for that.

That's why I recommended 6 months severance. Compensation.

But UNIONS? How do you unionize a dentist's small practice? And suppose that was in place and she did belong to a union and he couldn't fire her? Then one of the other two options would have been the result. He quits outright, or he moves. There simply isn't a scenario in which they continue to work together.

19 Obdicut  Sat, Dec 22, 2012 4:33:08pm

re: #18 lostlakehiker

That's why I recommended 6 months severance. Compensation.

But UNIONS? How do you unionize a dentist's small practice? And suppose that was in place and she did belong to a union and he couldn't fire her? Then one of the other two options would have been the result. He quits outright, or he moves. There simply isn't a scenario in which they continue to work together.

Unions raise standards in non-union jobs as well. And I have no idea why you're talking about them continuing to work together, since I said you should get compensated if you couldn't continue in the job not because of any fault, but because of something with your employer.

So why are you talking about them continuing to work together?

20 goddamnedfrank  Sat, Dec 22, 2012 4:34:29pm

re: #7 Dark_Falcon

She wasn't fired for being a woman, she was fired because she become a liability to the owner of the dental practice. He replaced her with another woman, in point of fact. It's a raw deal, I agree, but not all raw deals are legally actionable.

She was fired for being an attractive woman. This still constitutes gender discrimination in as much as personal comeliness would not have been an issue in this instance for any male employee.

21 Obdicut  Sat, Dec 22, 2012 4:36:41pm

re: #20 goddamnedfrank

She was fired for being an attractive woman. This still constitutes gender discrimination in as much as personal comeliness would not have been an issue in this instance for any male employee.

I hadn't thought of it that way. Yeah, it is gender discrimination; if she was male, she wouldn't have been fired. That there are other things that could have made her not fired-- like being unattractive-- doesn't matter. You can't decide you're going to fire all the women who have blue eyes but not fire the men who have blue eyes.

22 Dark_Falcon  Sat, Dec 22, 2012 6:54:17pm

re: #21 Obdicut

I hadn't thought of it that way. Yeah, it is gender discrimination; if she was male, she wouldn't have been fired. That there are other things that could have made her not fired-- like being unattractive-- doesn't matter. You can't decide you're going to fire all the women who have blue eyes but not fire the men who have blue eyes.

But Dr. Knight only employs women. If she was a 'he', he'd not have been hired in the first place.

23 goddamnedfrank  Sat, Dec 22, 2012 8:18:02pm

re: #22 Dark_Falcon

But Dr. Knight only employs women. If she was a 'he', he'd not have been hired in the first place.

Oh bullshit. The fact that both the original and replacement assistant happened to be women doesn't mean anything. It's a small practice, there aren't enough employee slots or known applicants to establish who the Dr. "only" hires. You just made that bit up. And if the Dr. did only hire women, that too would be gender discrimination.


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