Condemn Iowa For Discrimination Against Women


Target: Iowa Supreme Court

Goal: Condemn the Iowa Supreme Court for ruling that firing a woman for being too attractive is legal

The Iowa Supreme Court recently upheld a prior decision that indicates that firing a woman for being considered too attractive is not a type of gender discrimination. This decision came after a dentist fired his assistant because he believed that she might threaten his marriage simply because he found her attractive.

Former dental assistant Melissa Nelson sued dentist James Knight for firing her after ten years of solid work. Knight fired Nelson because his wife’s concern over shared text messages and the fact that Knight admitted he wasn’t sure he could resist the temptation of the young and attractive assistant. Nelson is married with two children.

Court justices originally ruled that the firing was not gender discrimination based on the rationale that the firing took place because of feelings, rather than gender. According to the court, the firing was not discriminatory because Knight fired Nelson out of fear of infidelity rather than because of her gender.. The case was recently brought back to the court, at which time the court upheld its decision despite public backlash.

Evidence shows that text messages were sent from Knight that were sexual in nature, but that Nelson did not embrace these advances, and said instead that she thought of Knight as a “father figure,” especially after working with him for ten years.

This type of decision is devastating for gender equality. Many comments were made about Nelson’s clothing choices during the court case, as though her clothes invited sexual harassment. Nelson lost her job because her boss came to the conclusion that he was too attracted to her and wouldn’t be able to control himself, and this was ruled legal by the Iowa Supreme Court.

By signing the petition below you will be condemning the Iowa Supreme Court for their blatant disregard for gender equality and the rights of women in the workplace.


Dear Iowa Supreme Court,

Firing a woman for being “too attractive” or for “tempting” a male boss is unacceptable. Punishing a female employee because a male superior is unable to control his urges is a clear example of sex discrimination and is a truly despicable action.

I am writing you to express my disgust for your ruling that James Knight was within his legal bounds to fire Melissa Nelson for being too attractive. Nelson’s career has been destroyed because Knight was making unwarranted sexual advances and felt that he couldn’t fight the temptation to be unfaithful to his wife – even though Nelson herself is married with children and did not express sexual interest in Knight. It is clear from your decision that you thought only of Knight and his position of power, and not at all of the reality of gender discrimination and sexual harassment for women in the workplace. Ruling that Nelson deserved to be fired because her boss found her too attractive is a slap in the face to gender equality and is extremely disappointing.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Ctjf83 via Wikimedia Commons

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51 Signatures

  • Hermann Kastner
  • James Thrailkill
  • sheila childs
  • Mal Gaff
  • Terrie Phenicie
  • jeff hopkins
  • Nancy Petersen
  • Holly Hall
  • Marianne Oelman
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