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Can you fire an employee for being too attractive?


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#1 Alpha_ProgDes   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 4680

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Posted 22 December 2012 - 06:47 PM

Here's the link.

 

I sympathize with this guy. I really do. But he shouldn't have been able to fire his assistant. He found her attractive and was having a hard time keeping it in his pants. That's no fault of her own. No matter what she is wearing. I wonder if this will go to the US Supreme Court. I doubt it only because Clarence Thomas wants no part of that action.


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#2 Oberon_Command   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1795

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Posted 22 December 2012 - 07:03 PM

Sounds like Knight's wife is the real culprit here. The article says that nothing sexual actually happened between the Knight and the Nelson - the boss's wife simply demanded that he fire his own employee when she found out that they were communicating, perhaps because she felt threatened by the employee. Knight was likely presented with the choice between keeping the employee and keeping the wife. The judges are right IMO, this isn't gender discrimination, but it is definitely unfortunate and according to the information available in the article, neither Knight nor Nelson really did anything wrong.

Of course, it's hard to tell if the article is leaving anything important out.

Edited by Oberon_Command, 22 December 2012 - 10:06 PM.


#3 slicer4ever   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3196

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Posted 22 December 2012 - 07:18 PM

wouldn't this be considered wrongful termination?

 

I agree that it probably wasn't gender discrimination, but it defiantly isn't a valid reason to fire someone imo.


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#4 kuramayoko10   Members   -  Reputation: 386

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Posted 22 December 2012 - 07:31 PM

wouldn't this be considered wrongful termination?

 

I agree that it probably wasn't gender discrimination, but it defiantly isn't a valid reason to fire someone imo.

From what I understand from the news in OP's link he did not used her attractiveness as reason to fire her. He stated, in his own way, that the work relationship was not healthy anymore.

He doesn't have to say that fired her because she is a woman and attractive. He can simply put that she, as a person, is no longer a good fit for the job.


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#5 way2lazy2care   Members   -  Reputation: 782

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Posted 22 December 2012 - 07:43 PM

I sympathize with this guy. I really do. But he shouldn't have been able to fire his assistant. He found her attractive and was having a hard time keeping it in his pants. That's no fault of her own. No matter what she is wearing. I wonder if this will go to the US Supreme Court. I doubt it only because Clarence Thomas wants no part of that action.
I dunno. It's not really fair to him to not be able to fire her. He knew if he didn't separate himself from temptation he was putting his marriage and business in jeopardy either by pissing off his wife or causing a harassment suit. It's a crappy situation no doubt, but I don't think it's right to punish someone for taking mature and pre-emptive steps to avoid themselves making mistakes.

#6 Alpha_ProgDes   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 4680

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Posted 22 December 2012 - 07:47 PM

but I don't think it's right to punish someone for taking mature and pre-emptive steps to avoid themselves making mistakes.

 

I don't think he was being mature. His wife caught him making inappropriate texts and pretty much forced him to fire her. Again, I sympathize with the guy. But she was wrongfully fired, IMO.


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#7 way2lazy2care   Members   -  Reputation: 782

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Posted 22 December 2012 - 08:04 PM

but I don't think it's right to punish someone for taking mature and pre-emptive steps to avoid themselves making mistakes.

I don't think he was being mature. His wife caught him making inappropriate texts and pretty much forced him to fire her. Again, I sympathize with the guy. But she was wrongfully fired, IMO.
That's like saying a bully's parents forcing him to apologize isn't a good thing because the bully would apologize on his own. Either that or saying the bully continuing to beat up kids on the playground is better than him apologizing at all.

If we lived in a world where people were capable of being able to change themselves in a day, I might be inclined to empathize with her a little more, but as far as I'm concerned he decided, probably with more than a little push from his wife, to separate himself from a situation that put his family and business in jeopardy.

#8 LennyLen   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3343

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Posted 22 December 2012 - 08:28 PM

but as far as I'm concerned he decided, probably with more than a little push from his wife, to separate himself from a situation that put his family and business in jeopardy.

It in no way put the business in jeopardy. She had been employed for 10 years and he even stated that she was the best dental assistant he had ever had. It may have been putting his marriage in jeopardy, but that is irreverent in the employer/employee relationship. She was hired to do a job and she did the job well. Firing her is unfair dismissal.

Edited by LennyLen, 22 December 2012 - 08:29 PM.


#9 mikeishere   Members   -  Reputation: 151

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Posted 22 December 2012 - 09:46 PM

but as far as I'm concerned he decided, probably with more than a little push from his wife, to separate himself from a situation that put his family and business in jeopardy.

It in no way put the business in jeopardy. She had been employed for 10 years and he even stated that she was the best dental assistant he had ever had. It may have been putting his marriage in jeopardy, but that is irreverent in the employer/employee relationship. She was hired to do a job and she did the job well. Firing her is unfair dismissal.


Edited by mikeishere, 22 December 2012 - 09:46 PM.


#10 Alpha_ProgDes   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 4680

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Posted 22 December 2012 - 10:32 PM



but I don't think it's right to punish someone for taking mature and pre-emptive steps to avoid themselves making mistakes.


I don't think he was being mature. His wife caught him making inappropriate texts and pretty much forced him to fire her. Again, I sympathize with the guy. But she was wrongfully fired, IMO.



That's like saying a bully's parents forcing him to apologize isn't a good thing because the bully would apologize on his own. Either that or saying the bully continuing to beat up kids on the playground is better than him apologizing at all.



No it isn't. And you're arguing something different than what I'm saying. You claimed that he took mature steps. I'm saying he wasn't mature. It wasn't his decision. It was his wife's, for the most part. If he took those steps before his wife caught him and the pastor got involved then I would be more inclined to agree with you. And he isn't a child who doesn't know better. He's a 50 year old man, who knew what he was doing was wrong and made the decision to continue.
 
If we lived in a world where people were capable of being able to change themselves in a day, I might be inclined to empathize with her a little more, but as far as I'm concerned he decided, probably with more than a little push from his wife, to separate himself from a situation that put his family and business in jeopardy.

Now you're just making excuses for him. I've read 3 articles on the issue and every article says that he was the originator, instigator, and aggressor in this situation. He was saying and texting explicit comments, not her. He put his family and maybe his business in jeopardy, not her. He could have easily kept his loins in check and not have done what he was doing. This is a pure and simple case of passion overriding/overwhelming reason. And it's on the dentist, not her. They've working together for 10 years without incident and now suddenly he has his sex drive, she gets fired.

As I said in the OP, I sympathize with the guy. Sometimes people let their hormones get the best of them. He didn't want ruin his marriage but his loins were telling him something else. But nothing that I've read puts her in the wrong.
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#11 way2lazy2care   Members   -  Reputation: 782

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Posted 23 December 2012 - 01:13 AM

It in no way put the business in jeopardy. She had been employed for 10 years and he even stated that she was the best dental assistant he had ever had.
I have a hard time believing that if she were willing to sue him over this that she wouldn't be willing to sue him over sexual harassment if it escalated.
You claimed that he took mature steps. I'm saying he wasn't mature.
I don't think we'll ever agree on that. When given the situation of putting your wife in an uncomfortable enough position that your marriage is in jeopardy, I definitely think it's a mature thing to separate yourself from that issue. I think the difference is that I don't think it's easy for him to just change his behavior. His behavior initially was immature, but I don't find the firing immature.

If anything I'd say she had a sexual harassment case more than a wrongful termination case.
 
He put his family and maybe his business in jeopardy, not her. He could have easily kept his loins in check and not have done what he was doing.
To give you an example, I have an issue biting my finger-nails. I have heard countless people say, "just don't bite them," and it just isn't always that easy so I wear gloves to stop me doing that. It's easy to say, "you shouldn't have to wear gloves, just stop." It isn't that easy to just change.

edit: To be perfectly clear, I think his initial behavior is less than admirable, I just don't think the termination was illegal.

Edited by way2lazy2care, 23 December 2012 - 01:27 AM.


#12 szecs   Members   -  Reputation: 2094

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Posted 23 December 2012 - 01:34 AM

Um, so... Didn't the boss and the employe talk about the situation? Couldn't they have agreed about quitting in a way that's okay for both of them?

Or the woman wasn't just a poor a victim? Or am I just too simple minded?



#13 slicer4ever   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3196

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Posted 23 December 2012 - 01:46 AM

wouldn't this be considered wrongful termination?

 

I agree that it probably wasn't gender discrimination, but it defiantly isn't a valid reason to fire someone imo.

From what I understand from the news in OP's link he did not used her attractiveness as reason to fire her. He stated, in his own way, that the work relationship was not healthy anymore.

He doesn't have to say that fired her because she is a woman and attractive. He can simply put that she, as a person, is no longer a good fit for the job.

he also stated that she was pretty much the best worker he's had, so why did he fire her? because he apparantly didn't have enough will power to not think of her in such a manner(or at least his wife thought he didn't).  isn't that wrongful termination if you fire some one without a valid working reason?  How is it her fault that her boss isn't able to keep things professional, and why should she be out of a job because of this.

 

personally, to me the worst part is:

 

In fact, he said, Knight only employs women and replaced Nelson with another female employee.

 

 

that's not only admitting to gender discrimination, hell, any guy that's applied for the position can probably now bring up gender discrimination on him from that line alone.

but let's ignore that, and think of what's going to happen 10 years from now when he has to fire this new girl because of the same shit.


Edited by slicer4ever, 23 December 2012 - 01:48 AM.

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#14 szecs   Members   -  Reputation: 2094

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Posted 23 December 2012 - 01:57 AM

Hmm after reading the article, the woman is anything but a victim. She played the discrimination card, after deliberately trying to seduce her boss. That's what I read in the article. Call me chauvinist



#15 szecs   Members   -  Reputation: 2094

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Posted 23 December 2012 - 02:00 AM

personally, to me the worst part is:


In fact, he said, Knight only employs women and replaced Nelson with another female employee.

Um.... are there many male dental assistants out there?

He apparantly didn't have enough will power
According to the article, the woman refused to change her clothing style after more requests from the employer. If you have the will power to resist an attractive woman who you work with for 8-10 hours a day (in a closed room constantly in each others personal spaces) and be 100% concentrated on your concentration demanding job at the same time, than you must be a Jedi knight.


And to sum it up: isn't the inability to work together with somebody is a reason enough to stop working each other?

Edited by szecs, 23 December 2012 - 02:13 AM.


#16 tstrimple   Prime Members   -  Reputation: 1718

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Posted 23 December 2012 - 02:07 AM

that's not only admitting to gender discrimination, hell, any guy that's applied for the position can probably now bring up gender discrimination on him from that line alone.

but let's ignore that, and think of what's going to happen 10 years from now when he has to fire this new girl because of the same shit.

 

I have never seen a male dental assistant. Not once.



#17 LennyLen   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3343

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Posted 23 December 2012 - 03:01 AM

I have a hard time believing that if she were willing to sue him over this that she wouldn't be willing to sue him over sexual harassment if it escalated

Firing somebody because they might one day sue you for sexual harassment is not (or at least it should not be) a legal reason to fire somebody. I don't know why she chose to sue on the grounds of gender discrimination, as that was obviously not the case. I'm assuming that Iowa just has poor laws for protecting employee's rights. There has been no good reason so far for there to have been justifiable grounds for terminating her employment.

The closest to a good reason mentioned so far is the way she dressed. But even with that, as the business owner, he could have implemented a dress code for employees to follow, and then given her formal warnings before terminating her for not following the rules if she didn't comply.
And to sum it up: isn't the inability to work together with somebody is a reason enough to stop working each other?

They had been working together for 10 years, so there was no inability to work together.

When it comes down to it, the only valid reasons for terminating an employee (not including redundancy) are if they fail to do their job or are breaking company rules. Neither happened in this case.

#18 szecs   Members   -  Reputation: 2094

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Posted 23 December 2012 - 03:23 AM

If the dress code were changed during employment, then she'd be suing for that maybe.

 

What about cut-back? Can't you fire someone for that reason?

I'm an employee, so I'm with employee rights. But not with exploiting this, which seems to be the case here (we can't see the background. Maybe they had an agreement, and firing was the best decision for both of them to solve the issue).

 

Is she really was simply fired, than the employer is the bad guy.



#19 LennyLen   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3343

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Posted 23 December 2012 - 04:03 AM

If the dress code were changed during employment, then she'd be suing for that maybe.

I don't know about in Ohio, but I have been an employer in New Zealand, and the laws there basically state that employees must comply with any reasonable rules or duties that are instituted after commencement of employment. That would cover dress code.
What about cut-back? Can't you fire someone for that reason?

That's what redundancy is, and yes it's generally considered a valid reason for terminating somebody. In most places though, if a person is made redundant and then is immediately replaced they can claim unfair dismissal.
we can't see the background

This is a very good point, and I'm willing to bet there are a lot of details that haven't been reported. Perhaps those details would give light to why her lawyers are pressing her to sue on grounds of gender discrimination, as that seems a pretty poor case with what has been reported.

#20 Luckless   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1628

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Posted 23 December 2012 - 10:32 AM

As far as "Only Employing Women" for gender discrimination, I had the fun of doing much of the leg work at my previous job for a similar claim of discrimination. A woman tried to sue the company for discrimination as she wasn't hired for the position, and we had a staff ratio of about 8:1 males to females. However, we were able to demonstrate that the applicants for various positions in our company were in the order of 40:1 males to females, and that based on that a woman actually had a statically higher chance of being hired than a male.

Male dental assistants are very rare. More so than medical nurses last I had heard. And it sure isn't because people don't hire males for the position, it simply is that they so rarely take the training. I've had the chance to stop by a few dental assisting classes over the years, and I've seen One male student.



And as for the issue of "Firing your best employee", I've also seen that happen in one company, and it was the owner's own son. Dude was a brilliant programmer, and could bang out solutions in no time, and basically did a few of the projects by himself. However, he was arrogant, hard to work with, and highly demoralizing to the rest of the company. He was fired, and the next year profits were down more than three quarters. But everyone was happier, and as of today (a few years later) the company is doing far better than when the annoying son was there and has nicely restructured itself. He too tried to sue, but it was shown that he was creating a problem within the company, and that it was in the business's best interest to cut ties.
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