Melissa Nelson, Dental Assistant, Fired For Being Too Hot

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Apparently 32-year-old Melissa Nelson is simply too attractive to work as a dental assistant in the Iowa practice of 53-year-old D.D.S. James Knight.

Her sexy, good looks are what ultimately got her fired.

Melissa Nelson Pic

After working as a dental assistant for more than 10 years, Nelson was fired for being too "irresistible" and a "threat" to her employer's marriage.

"I think it is completely wrong," said Nelson, who challenged the move. "I think it sends a message that men can do whatever they want in the work force."

On Friday, the all-male Iowa State Supreme Court ruled that Knight was within his legal rights when he fired her, affirming the decision of a lower court.

"We do think the Iowa Supreme Court got it completely right," said Stuart Cochrane, Knight's attorney.

"Our position has always been Mrs. Nelson was never terminated because of her gender, [but] because of concerns her behavior was not appropriate in the workplace."

"She's an attractive lady. Dr. Knight found her behavior and dress to be inappropriate."

For Nelson, herself a married mother of two, the news of her firing and the rationale behind it came as a shock; she says there was never an indication.

"I was very surprised after working so many years side by side I didn't have any idea that that would have crossed his mind," she said of Dr. Knight.

The two never had a sexual relationship or sought one, according to court documents, however Knight recently began to make comments about her clothing.

"Dr. Knight acknowledges he once told Nelson that if she saw his pants bulging, she would know her clothing was too revealing," the justices wrote.

Six months before Nelson was fired, she and her boss began exchanging texts about work and personal matters, such as updates about their children's activities.

The messages were mostly mundane, but Nelson recalled one text she received from her boss asking "how often she experienced an orgasm."

Nelson did not respond to the text, but never indicated that she was uncomfortable with Knight's question, according to Iowa court documents.

Soon after, Knight's wife, Jeanne, who also works at the practice, found out about the text messaging and ordered her husband to fire Nelson.

The couple consulted with a senior pastor at their church and he agreed that Nelson should be terminated in order to protect their marriage.

On January 4, 2010, Nelson was summoned to a meeting with Knight while a pastor was present. Knight read a prepared statement telling Nelson she was fired.

"Dr. Knight felt like for the best interest of his marriage and the best interest of hers, they needed to end their employment relationship," Cochrane said.

Knight acknowledged in court documents that Nelson was good at her job and she, in turn, said she was generally treated with respect at the office.

"I'm devastated. I really am," Nelson said.

When Nelson's husband tried to reason with Knight, the dentist told him he "feared he would have an affair with her down the road if he did not fire her."

Paige Fiedler, Nelson's attorney, said she was "appalled" by the ruling "and by the Court's ruling and its failure to understand the nature of gender bias."

"Although people act for a variety of reasons, it is common for women to be targeted for discrimination because of sexual attractiveness or supposed lack of sexual attractiveness."

"That is discrimination based on sex," Fiedler wrote. "Nearly every woman in Iowa understands this because we have experienced it for ourselves."


Just heard about this on a re-run of Tosh.0. I'm honestly shocked this happened, not the firing part but the fact that the Iowa Supreme Court ruled it legal. The woman Melissa should file an appeal with the United States Supreme Court because what happened was gender discrimination. She should sue that dentist and his practice for everything he's worth.


The good news is she won't have any problem finding a job. If this story gets enough publicity, maybe she will get an offer from Playboy...


Melissa deserves some kind of compensation or at least unemployment... Dr Knight was totally to blame., He should have acted more professionally.
I am a Dental Assistant and have seen similar situations....Oh please! She wore scrubs....

@ Lauren

she ought to have understood that her clothing distracted and hence correction was recommended. am a hrm and i do understand her was worth it,family first.


My comments directed at Sruggsy.


LMAO when i read your comments. You are obviously struggle living in society with this attitude.


It looks like the dentist engaged in inappropriate behavior and Ms. Nelson welcomed it. The court was right.


It's refreshing to see evidence of a court that hasn't turned activist yet and rules based on law and not political correctness. In a right to work state the Doc was within his legal rights to let her go. It's his private business. Good job by the Iowa Supreme Court.

Jennifer miller

This is proof that things has not changed women are still judged on their looks.


In my posting from a few minutes ago, I meant to say the word sounds instead of the word sound. MY BAD!!!!! Peace.


To me, this whole situation horribly REEKS of hypocrisy and stupidity. And, that James Knight dude sound like a real dirtbag, hypocrite and moron. Most of all, that Melissa Nelson chick has a very strong case and ought to sue that idiot dentist...ASAP!!!!!

@ jaybird369

Umm, she did sue him. She lost. You never got past the headline, did you?

@ Sruggsy

You're right. I stand corrected.