Condemn the Iowa Supreme Court For Allowing Employers To Fire Women For Their Looks


Target: Iowa Supreme Court

Goal: Condemn the Iowa Supreme Court for unanimously passing a law that allows for male employers to fire attractive female employees

Passed in 1868, the Fourteenth Amendment addresses equal protection of laws regardless of race, sex, and sexual orientation. In a controversial case over the firing of a female assistant by a dentist because she was too attractive, the Supreme Court recently affirmed the legality of the firing. The court promulgated that bosses retain the power to fire employees that threaten their marriages. This ruling violates the fourteenth amendment by codifying gender discrimination, and the Iowa Supreme Court must be condemned for their irresponsible decision.

This decision stems from a case where married dentist James Knight fired his longtime assistant Melissa Nelson whom he considered too attractive because he feared that he would have an affair with her. More than 20 years younger and also married, Nelson never made sexual advances towards Knight or showed romantic interest. Knight fired her not for her incompetence but because he feared the temptation to engage in an extramarital affair with her. Moreover, he had made sexual advances towards Nelson which she did not welcome or reciprocate. Knight claimed Nelson wore suggestive clothing that was too tight, which Nelson denied. They began texting each other in 2009 about work-related issues; when Knight texted her personal questions, she would ignore those texts. With his wife’s encouragement upon finding out that they were texting each other, Knight fired Nelson so that he would not pursue her.

Comprised of all male justices, the Iowa Supreme Court rendered like firings legal because they were motivated by feelings rather than gender discrimination. In Knight’s case, he argues that he is not a misogynist because he replaced Nelson with a less attractive assistant. This decision clearly represents a scaling back in the fight for workplace gender and racial equality and must be condemned. In light of this decision, bosses could potentially legally fire dark-skinned women and replace them with whiter women and those with small breasts with female workers who have bigger breasts. We must urge the court to reconsider this case in light of the political and legal ramifications that will ensue.

Please sign this petition to show that it is not okay to allow for one of the country’s highest courts to legalize chauvinism and misogyny. Iowa could influence other Supreme Courts in various states throughout the country. Let them know that their decision violates the fourteenth amendment and they should be condemned if they do not reconsider this outrageous decision.


Dear Iowa Supreme Court,

We are disgusted to learn that you have reaffirmed the legality of bosses firing employees for being too attractive. This decision will allow for blatant gender discrimination in the workplace and scales back on the progress made in acquiring racial and gender equality in the workplace. It is a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment which is supposed to protect the equality of citizens in all arenas of life regardless of their race, sex and sexual orientation. We strongly believe you should reconsider your decision.

Women already struggle with being treated equally in the workplace and struggle with how they comport themselves with male bosses. Melissa Nelson was the victim of sexual advances by her boss James Knight rather than the other way around. It is abhorrent that you viewed her firing as legal. Such misogyny and chauvinism should never be accepted. Please reconsider your outrageous decision and protect the Fourteenth Amendment and workplace equity that we as a country have worked so hard to make progress in.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Brian Turner via Flickr

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