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The Iowa Supreme Court has ruled that a dentist was within his rights firing an assistant who he found attractive simply because he and his wife thought she was a threat to their marriage. That seems a bit iffy to me. But perhaps he could be held culpable simply for saying the following. And I don’t just mean for harassment — that seems kind of like a given in this case, just for being maybe the weirdest dentist ever, in addition to being a harasser.This from the AP

Nelson, 32, worked for Knight for 10 years, and he considered her a stellar worker. But in the final months of her employment, he complained that her tight clothing was distracting, once telling her that if his pants were bulging that was a sign her clothes were too revealing, according to the opinion.

He also explained to Nelson’s husband about how his desire to bed his wife might have become a problem …

Knight fired Nelson and gave her one month’s severance. He later told Nelson’s husband that he worried he was getting too personally attached and feared he would eventually try to start an affair with her.

Late Update: TPM Reader KM notes that ‘you’re so hot my spouse is threatened’ is something the federal courts have generally been okay with as a cause for termination, which is bizarre, but there you go …

That decision may seem surprising, but as someone who represents plaintiff’s in sexual harassment cases, I can tell you that it is pretty consistent with federal decisions, including the New York-based federal appeals court. Firing an employee because your spouse is jealous (which seems to be what happened here if the AP report is right) has been consistently been held to be a non-discriminatory, lawful motivation. There’s little doubt that women get fired for this reason about a million times more often than men, but the courts don’t seem to factor that into the analysis. And, yes, that dentist is weird, but I’ve seen much worse in my practice.

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Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.
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