On December 21st, the Iowa Supreme Court decided that male employers can fire female employees for being too attractive.
At least, that’s the dominant media interpretation of the state high court’s decision in re Nelson v. Knight (11-1857, 2012). Much of this interpretation has been fueled by the revelation of certain undisputed facts Justice Edward Mansfield reveals in his written opinion, facts which were “set forth … in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, Melissa Nelson” because the lower court’s decision had been a summary judgment rather than a jury verdict.
What facts are these? Nelson worked for the defendant, dentist James Knight, for ten years; in the last year or so of their professional relationship, Knight started complaining that Nelson was wearing clothes that were too tight; once, when he texted her (!) that the shirt she’d worn that day was too tight and she replied (!!) that she didn’t think he was being fair, “Dr. Knight replied that it was a good thing Nelson did not wear tight pants too because then he would get it coming and going [bold font mine].” Another time, when Nelson made a statement indicating she and her husband were having infrequent marital relations (!!!), Knight commented, “That’s like having a Lamborghini in the garage and never driving it.”
In essence, then, the decision presents James Knight as a right old pig engaging in objectification, and local women have reacted to the decision by bombing him in Yelp with negative reviews. “I went to this dentist when I first moved to Iowa,” wrote one woman, Caroline D. “While his staff was mostly friendly and his office was somewhat clean, HE really gave me the creeps … trust me, don't go to this weirdo, unless you want to feel verrry uncomfortable.”