Defining what actually constitutes illegal mistreatment in the workplace can be very difficult in some instances. In Minnesota and other states around the country, employers typically have a certain degree of freedom to make employment decisions at their own discretion. And given that many workplace environments place employers and staff in close proximity to one another, it is not uncommon for issues to arise between boss and employee. One gender discrimination lawsuit is testing the legal system, as the highest court in one state is reconsidering its previous ruling on the issue and fueling controversy in the process.
The case in question involves a dental hygienist who was apparently fired by her employer after working with him for 10 years. Interestingly, both the dentist and the hygienist cite the same reason for her dismissal; though, the question is whether or not that reason can be considered gender discrimination. The hygienist is suing the dentist because her attractiveness allegedly posed a threat to his marriage.
According to the lawsuit, the dentist’s wife instructed him to fire the alleged victim after learning the two frequently communicated outside of work. After that, the defendant in the suit is accused of telling the victim’s husband that he would pursue having a relationship with the victim if he didn’t fire her.
When the lawsuit came before the Iowa Supreme Court in late 2012, the court found that the defendant’s actions were legal because they did not reflect gender bias. It’s because of that ruling that the hygienist requested that her case be reevaluated by the court. While a date has yet to be provided, the state’s Supreme Court recently agreed to hear the lawsuit again.
No doubt, the potential outcome of this case could set precedence and fuel emotions about such issues.
Source: nydailynews.com, “‘Irresistible’ employee gets rare review from Iowa Supreme Court,” Deborah Hastings, June 28, 2013