Saturday, December 22, 2012


Oh, good grief.

Reuters is reporting that the Iowa Supreme Court has ruled that firing someone because they are "too attractive" is legal.

In the case that generated the ruling, a dentist fired a female dental assistant at his wife's insistence because the assistant was a "big threat" to their marriage. During the trial, the dentist testified that he had warned his assistant several times about wearing clothes that were too tight and revealing, and then fired her after his wife complained that the dentist's relationship with the assistant was threatening their marriage.

And what was their "relationship"? Had the assistant made advances toward or flirted with the dentist. Not according to the assistant, who sued on the grounds that she would not have been fired if she had been a male and that she hadn't done anything wrong. In fact, according to the story, the dentist was the one who started sending text messages to the assistant. Most of the messages were apparently innocent communications regarding office matters. However, some of the messages, according to testimony in the original case, were suggestive, including one the assistant never answered in which the dentist asked her how often she has orgasms.

In other words, from testimony in the trial, the dentist was the bad actor, not the assistant. Yet the Court ruled that it isn't discrimination and isn't against the law for an employer to fire an employee if the employer considers the employee to be "an irresistable attraction".

Needless to say, all the justices who ruled on the case are males.

Really? An employer can't control himself (or herself) but the innocent employee who has done nothing wrong can be fired just for what he (or she) looks like? Or just because the spouse of the employer feels threatened by how the employee looks? How is that just?

This is just another application of the other golden rule: He who has the gold makes the rules. As far as I can see, the dentist's testimony about his warning his assitant about her clothing is beside the point because the argument he used during the trial was that he had fired her because of "the way their relationship had developed and the threat it posed to his marriage". It seems to me he was the reason that the relationship developed the way it did. Even if the assistant did wear clothes the dentist thought were "too tight", he didn't have to respond by harassing her.

What the dentist was really arguing was that it was the assistant's fault that he could not control himself and refrain from sending suggestive and harassing text messages. And isn't that the same argument men have made since time immemorial - that everything is always the woman's fault?

When, oh, when, are men going to start taking responsibility for their own behavior and quit making the argument that they just can't help themselves. Because, you know, there are enough men in the world who can and do control themselves despite their attraction to particular women to make the notion that men are helpless before their passions insupportable.

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