December 21, 2012
Jealousy Not Sex Discrimination
The question of the day comes from the Iowa Supreme Court:
Can a male employer terminate a female employee because the employer's wife, due to no fault of the employee, is concerned about the nature of the relationship between the employer and the employee?
...we ultimately conclude the conduct does not amount to unlawful sex discrimination in violation of the Iowa Civil Rights Act.
The employee was hired in 1999 as a dental assistent in the employer's dental office. She worked there capably for over 10 1/2 years. However, the employer had complained that she dressed in a "too tight" and revealing manner.
During the last six months of her tenure, they "started texting each other on both work and personal matters outside the workplace." The employee denied that she flirted with the employer although there was some sexual banter between them.
When the employer was with his children for a Colorado Christmas, Mrs. Employer found the text messages.
There ensued a confrontation between them and pastoral counseling. As a result of the perceived ongoing threat to the marriage, the employee was terminated.
The court concluded:
...the issue is not whether [employer] treated [employee] badly. We are asked to decide only if a genuine fact issue exists as to whether [employer] engaged in unlawful gender discrimination when he fired [employee] at the request of his wife....we believe that this conduct did not amount to unlawful discrimination...
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