The Iowa Supreme Court — comprised entirely of men — ruled Friday, 7-0, that a dentist was within his right to fire an assistant when he and his wife deemed her a marriage threat, reported the AP.
Melissa Nelson, 32, had been an employee of James Knight, 53, for a decade.
The two began sending text messages to each other, which upset Knight’s wife when she discovered the exchanges. Knight worried he would attempt to start an affair with Nelson, though Nelson claims she saw her boss as a father figure and never considered a relationship with him.
After her termination, Nelson filed a gender discrimination lawsuit.
The judge who authored the ruling claims the decision tracks with previous courts that found family businesses can fire employees causing family strife.
Knight’s attorney explained that it was not gender discrimination by claiming, “While there was really no fault on the part of Mrs. Nelson, it was just as clear the decision to terminate her was not related to the fact that she was a woman.”
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