Fired for Being Too Pretty

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Last year, James Knight, a dentist in Iowa, terminated the employment of Melissa Nelson. She was attractive to Dr. Knight and he, and his wife, felt that she could be a threat to their marriage. Nelson had worked with Knight for 10 years, from the age of 22.

But recently, apparently, she had gone to wearing clothing that Dr. Knight considered provocative. Nelson is married as well and considered Dr. Knight a ‘father figure’. So, it came as a surprise that Dr. Knight terminated her employment. He gave her one month’s severance pay. She was, otherwise, a “stellar” employee.

Disappointed in Dr. Knight’s treatment of her, Nelson did what you always do when you are disappointed in your father – she sued him. The Iowa Supreme Court ruled 7-0 that Dr. Knight had the right to terminate her employment. The termination was not gender based but attraction-based.

Nelson argued in court that the termination was gender based. But all the other workers were female and her replacement was also female.

I have sympathy for Mrs. Nelson but with a ten-year record with one employer and an outstanding reference from him, she should not have had a difficult time being rehired. Apparently, aside from the clothing, Mrs. Nelson was not guilty of any type of flirtatious behavior. Her text messages were of a personal nature but not necessarily inappropriate.

But it seems to me that Dr. Knight should be commended. Courts have generally allowed such terminations for similar reasons – protecting the sanctity of the home. In the interest of keeping his own marriage strong, he made this decision which seems drastic in the eyes of many.

But Jesus said, “If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell” (Matthew 5:29).

What do you and I need to do to protect ourselves from Satan’s temptations in our own personal lives? Do we need to tear something out and throw it aside?

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