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Iowa Woman Fired for Being 'Too Attractive,' Requests Court Rehearing

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By Benge Nsenduluka , CP Reporter
January 7, 2013|11:16 am
  • Melissa
    (PHOTO) YouTube: CNN Video (courtesy: Ana Kasparian)
    Melissa Nelson was fired by her male boss for being "too attractive"

Melissa Nelson, the Iowa woman infamously fired by her male boss for being "too attractive," is reportedly seeking a rehearing after a court ruled that her termination was legal.

In a petition recently filed by Nelson's attorney Paige Fiedler, Nelson, a former Dental Assistant, claims that she was fired from Dr. James Knight's Fort Dodge business "simply for existing as an attractive female," Radar Online has reported.

"An error doesn't become a mistake until you refuse to correct it," the petition noted. "It would take great courage for this court to correct its mistake. But it has a proud tradition of great courage."

The case sparked nationwide outrage in December when it was first revealed that Iowa's Supreme court ruled 7-0 that bosses can terminate employees who they deem to be an "irresistible attraction," according to CNN.

Nelson, a 32-year-old happily married mother of two, had worked for Dr. Knight for over a decade before she was abruptly fired which prompted her to sue him.

Dr. Knight's wife, who also worked in the same office, reportedly demanded that Nelson be fired after becoming jealous of the pair's relationship. They would allegedly exchange innocent text messages outside of work.

"The last couple of days have just been an emotional roller coaster. I'm trying to stay strong. It's tough," Nelson told CNN's Don Lemon after the court ruling. "I don't think it's fair. I don't think it's right."

Nelson denied claims that she wore revealing clothing to work and insists that she was always dressed in the standard scrubs uniform and that she acted professionally in her work environment.

Knight, 53, who Nelson deemed to be a "father figure," claims that Nelson's "attractive" appearance was distracting. In order to prevent an extramarital affair from occurring, he terminated her.

"The question we must answer is ... whether an employee who has not engaged in flirtatious conduct may be lawfully terminated simply because the boss views the employee as an irresistible attraction," Justice Edward M. Mansfield wrote for the all-male high court.

Knight allegedly made inappropriate remarks about Nelson's infrequent sex life, at one point telling her "that's like having a Lamborghini in the garage and never driving it."

Despite previously acknowledging that she is unable to appeal the court's ruling, Fiedler is determined to get a rehearing.

"These judges sent a message to Iowa women that they don't think men can be held responsible for their sexual desires," Nelson's attorney, Paige Fiedler, told the Associated Press. "If (the bosses) get out of hand, then the women can be legally fired for it."

 

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