Article Summary

Despite anti-discrimination laws that are generally similar in both states, California's courts are unlikely to follow the recent example of the all-male Iowa Supreme Court in allowing an employer to fire a woman simply because he was attracted to her. For one thing, California's law directs judges to construe it "liberally." For another, California's Supreme Court is majority female.

This article by TELG managing principal R. Scott Oswald and David L. Scher was published by The Daily Journal on July 18, 2013.

Excerpted from:

Those irresistible coworkers

Imagine yourself as a subordinate female employee and you receive this text from your male employer: "How often do you experience an orgasm?" At another time, he tells you to stop wearing tight shorts, and that it is good that you do not wear tight pants, too, because then "I would get it coming and going."

When Melissa Nelson was terminated from her position as a dental assistant, Dr. James Knight said they should not work together because their relationship was a detriment to both their families. When Ms. Nelson's husband called Knight back that evening, Knight told Mr. Nelson, "I fear I would try to have an affair with [Ms. Nelson] down the road if I did not fire her." Knight claimed that Ms. Nelson was fired at the behest of his wife, Ms. Knight, and after consultation with his pastor.

The seven male justices of the Iowa Supreme Court gave its judicial stamp of approval to this treatment because the female employee had a consensual personal relationship with her male employer.