Can You Lose a Job For Being Too Attractive?

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Yes, you read the title right and yes, it seems that you can lose a job for being too attractive.


There are many labor laws that serve to protect people from unfair or prejudicial hiring practices. For women, there are laws in place that are designed to protect them from being passed over for a job or for being fired due to their gender. There are even federal laws that make sexual harassment in the workplace illegal. For legal purposes, sexual harassment can include “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.” It doesn't cover the occasional offhand comment, the thoughts an employer might be harboring and the jealous imaginings of the boss's spouse.


Recently, a dentist in Iowa fired his long time dental assistant because he claimed that she was too attractive and that in the time that they had been working together, he had grown increasingly more attracted to her. He was worried that he might attempt to start an affair with her, sexually harass her or behave in a way that would be harmful to his marriage.


While I don't think it should matter as far as the legal principles at play, it still seems worth noting that the assistant hadn't done anything to foster these feelings in her boss. At no point has she been accused of being overly flirtatious or behaving in a manner that would make him believe that she would be open to the idea of an affair with her boss. Again, not that it matters.


The dental assistant sued her former employer for wrongful termination and sexual discrimination. During the course of the trial, the legal issue being decided was “whether an employee who has not engaged in flirtatious conduct may be lawfully terminated simply because the boss views the employee as an irresistible attraction.”


The case was heard in the Iowa Supreme Court where an all-male court ruled that yes, an employer can fire an employees, male or female, because they or their spouses view them as a threat to their marriage. The reason given is because the issue in question isn't based on gender, but instead is one of emotions and feeling, which aren't protected.


I'm not sure how I feel about this ruling, but I can see the court's point. On the other hand, I think that it's poorly done of the dentist to fire a long time employee based on his own feelings. When he hired her, I'm sure the fact that she was attractive played a large role in why he felt she was right for the job. For it to be used against her later seems wrong. However, I have to hope that this is an isolated incident and in the end, the dental assistant was better off for not having to continue to work for an employer who was having those types of thoughts about her.


What do you think? Do you think employers should be able to fire people because they're too attractive or because they think that they might be tempted to harass them? Please share your thoughts in the comments.


Image source: MorgueFile


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  • Sharon cuppetelli
    Sharon cuppetelli
    ......How absurd this decession is!!!! & they are all, the justices as prejudice as the dentist!To think is to decide upon CHOICES!! Obviously this Dentist had a Very Deep problem, & chose to blame hus own LUSTFUL feelings upon a woman!!!Is he from a Taliban tribe!!As a man thinks so is he, so thus dentist was & is an adulterer in his heart!!!Jesus said it clearly!!! If u have thoughts & look upon a woman in this way, you have already commited the ACT!!Is this really what our supreme courts have power to rule over a mans thoughts!!! What has America come to......God help it....
  • Myrah Padilla
    Myrah Padilla
    I disagreed from the Court's point of view. Think about this? Should every women have to think that they are ugly so that they don't have to get scared that they might not be able to have a permanent career in life just because they look attractive? It's stupid kind of reason and it's very immature. It's her employer is the one that has a problem mentally. He speculate so much in his head that his attractive worker might have sexually relationship with him? No! Not all women are like that. Many women out there are dignified too. The court is WRONG and the EMPLOYER as well.
  • Bonnie Schaufel
    Bonnie Schaufel
    I disagree!!! Like said above, if she was that attractive he should not have hired her in the first place. Whether you are attractive or not, after working together for years, people due become attracted to one another. But if you are going to cheat or stay faithful is entirely up to you. Yes she is better off, but she definitely should have won her case????
  • JG Harrelson
    JG Harrelson
    My hat's off to people like Carol Walker, who bothered to research this case and find the telltale details,and to John Dortmunder, who brings back the reality of at will hiring in unprotected job catagories. I know I'm swimming against the current with my opinion, but this case would not make it past the front desk of a NLRB office in AZ. Is it really that difficult for an experienced, competent dental assisstant to find another job? Try living in a right-to-work state where the dentist would be lauded for saving his marriage and self-respect, as well as avoiding a sexual harrassment suit, or better yet, do like Carol and read the facts before giving opinions.   
  • RMaureen Wexler
    RMaureen Wexler
    This is outrageous and it caters to a "modern day Witch Hunt".  The "emotions" of a professional require reasonable and balanced decision making skills when dealing with the public's healthcare in hospital or office setting.  In essence, the government is condoning unhealthy "prejudice" because the SOURCE of the problem (in this example husband and wife) have personality disorders regarding their interpretation of personal worth and self.  This is unacceptable and promotes the subjective, ill-based promotion of hatred in the public.  This employee is suffering damages through lost finances in an already strained economy within employment hiring sectors..  An appeal should be filed ASAP!!!
  • Sven E. Ratsep
    Sven E. Ratsep
    I think many people don't know their own weaknesses; others don't  know how to deal (with) them. This may be the only way they can ultimately be fair.
  • Marianne Brodman
    Marianne Brodman
    I'm okay w/ this.  People have to do what needs to be done to protect their marriages.  Good for the employer.  Attraction isn't just about initial physical appearance, so if he was smart enought to notice an evolution of feeling over time, he's better than most.  Hopefully, she was at the very least well compensated & sent off w/ glowing recommendations.
  •  Maria Heberling
    Maria Heberling
    I admire the boss for taking a stand to protect his marriage, but the employee has a viable employment case.A win-win would be for him to have found her another postion, perhaps with better pay and benefits, before terminating her.  He has a lucky wife, but can be economically devastating for a beautiful employee to just be "let go."
  • Paula Gordillo
    Paula Gordillo
    It is not fair, it is not ones fault to be atracted to somebody else....
  • Brittany Grandberry
    Brittany Grandberry
    Her boss thoughts prove he/she didnt have any control over his feelings toward this person. Secondly his marriage to his wife if the marriage has no problem sometimes you can be attractive people whom you work with and not work with its the nature its all about where you are in a current relationship and is it worth losing what you all already have. DIVA, Dee
  • JoAnn Schoolfield
    JoAnn Schoolfield
    I’ m married for 20+ years and I’ m 39 years old. This case is sensitive not just to the employee, but also to the wife of the dentist she has to fit into the picture somehow. I believe it was sad the employee had to be let go, however it was justified by the dentist because his moral, ethical  and professional judgment was about to be tested in his relationship with his wife. Maybe he could have found her another position to help her out, but still family comes first in any situation. His judgment was fair and actually surprising most men would have an affair but he did not and he was honest that counts A WHOLE LOT TO WOMEN. He did not sexually harass the employee his feelings came into part. The article states, the case was heard in the Iowa Supreme Court where an all-male court ruled that yes, an employer can fire an employees, male or female, because they or their spouses view them as a threat to their marriage. The reason given is because the issue in question isn't based on gender, but instead is one of emotions and feeling, which aren't protected. You can say the wife is insecure that does not matter we will do anything to protect our own. This is not discriminating!
  • Lizzilene Agyemang
    Lizzilene Agyemang
    My sister was a victim, She was specifically told some people were just not meant for office jobs. She was told her personality was intimidating and a total destruction to her colleagues so they had to let her go! "My sister never showed her legs or skin so what were these people talking about?" I personally think God gave certain looks to certain people and that should not determine their career path. The poor girl went to school for four year just to get her bachelors in Business and now here was she being told to reconsider her career path and not because of under performance but because she was too attractive. This is so sad and totally wrong. Beauty with Brains is awesome and should be encouraged in all career fields.
  • Paula Gordillo
    Paula Gordillo
    It is not fair, it is not ones fault to be atracted to somebody else....
  • Deborah Ranquist
    Deborah Ranquist
    This whole case just shows how completely absurd our society has become!  It has always been my understanding that termination of an employee better be for a damn good reason or it can be overturned by the Department of Labor.  An employer who doesn't know to control his own feelings towards an employee is not a legitimate reason for termination, but yes, I believe the employee is better off away from such an absurd employer as well.  He sounds more like a child than an adult.  When did the concept of self-control flee from the human race?!  Seems like we need it back in full measure, then ridiculous cases like this would never occur again!
  • Denise Roberts
    Denise Roberts
    yes its wrong to fire someone for being attractive.  It happened to me only I was called a distraction.
  • Kyerrah Brown
    Kyerrah Brown
    I feel the same wayPosted by: ESTHER MUNGAI On: 10/14/2013 3:30 AMI believe that we the human beings are a superior creation created in God's own image, in such a situation no one should loose a job because of being attractive. We should look at those attractive people and appreciate God's creation. We as superior creation should pray for God's grace so that we overcome all temptations. Satan is at work and he uses his power 100%, but we can overcome satan if we believe.
  • Eric Ingham
    Eric Ingham
    I think he was trying to be agentleman,an archane ideato some,despite her dismissal. Some things can't or shouldn't be decidedin court.
  • Marilyn Angevine
    Marilyn Angevine
    Yes, I do think employers who are sexually attracted to their close employee should be able to fire them - especially if they are already married and he/she are weak and not steeped in the word - + let no man put asunder -"
  • Heather Burson
    Heather Burson
    I can understand the reason to remove the issue before it becomes one, but obviously she was attractive from the start. She could have been offered to be transferred to another office or given  job assistance on finding another before having no job at all. The fact that they choose an all male jury is ridiculous because obviously the opinions will not be varied enough.She is better off in another office for sure!
  • Myra Tucker
    Myra Tucker
    So back to the day when this woman was hired, was she a threat to the marriage then? was she a toad who had gotten makeover and become attractive. This is another example of a man thinking with the wrong head! It's ridiculous to think it was supported by anyone, let alone someone in the judiciary arena. What other prejudicial decisions have they made? This is disgusting, especially in America, land of the "attractive package sells" concept.
  • Lorraine Gregory
    Lorraine Gregory
    This happens more than we know. I know a woman who was fired from a gym she ran for the owner because the wife thought she was too pretty. I don't care what laws we have. If an employer wants to fire you., they will and most if the time will fake the reason to fit within the law. Beauty is always a distraction. There are women bosses that are just as bad.The law is not always fair or correct  but through protest can be amended.
  •  Ej Henderson
    Ej Henderson
    It Just seems sad that the ruling went that way. But on the other hand, I believe there is a much GREATER door Opening for the Dental Assistant in the END!
  • John Dortmunder
    John Dortmunder
    I think the ruling stinks out loud with bells on!  However, it just points out the sad fact that American labor law is so stacked against workers than any at will employee in a non-protected category can be fired for a good reason, a bad reason, or NO reason at all.  And there has never been an attempt at making it otherwise!
  • Susan Meloney
    Susan Meloney
    What's next? I wasn't hired at various jobs because I wear glasses ( they are frameless & you hardly see them on my face). I feel sorry for the assistant be- cause she probably thought she had a secure job and all of a sudden one day she is fired. I do admire the dentist only because he wanted to protect his own marriage. Where is his self control? Good luck to the assistant.
  • Gregory Leanza
    Gregory Leanza
    I believe she was wrongfully dismissed. The assistant should be made to pay for the employers uncontrollable sexual desires. The employer she be made to pay for his actions . He hired her knowing fully that she was very attractive and he should have been made to pay a health settlement amount.  This is a clear case of discrimination of an employee in the work place because she is attractive. Shame on the jury and the men for allow such a gross injustice to take place.

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