'Irresistible' worker fired in Iowa: 'I don't think it's fair'
By Dana Ford, CNN
updated 12:35 PM EST, Tue December 25, 2012
Watch Melissa Nelson explain why her firing wasn't fair
Melissa Nelson worked as a dental assistant for James Knight for more than 10 years
The Iowa Supreme Court rules the dentist acted legally when he let her go
Nelson was fired because Knight and his wife felt she was a threat to their marriage
"The court got it absolutely right," says Knight's attorney
(CNN) -- It may not be fair, but it's not illegal -- not in Iowa.
Melissa Nelson, a worker fired for being "irresistible" to her boss, spoke out Saturday about a high court decision that said her termination broke no discrimination law.
"The last couple of days have just been an emotional roller coaster. I'm trying to stay strong. It's tough," she told CNN's Don Lemon. "I don't think it's fair. I don't think it's right."
Nelson spoke one day after the all-male Iowa Supreme Court ruled on her case. The high court sided with a lower court, ruling that Nelson's termination did not constitute sex discrimination under the Iowa Civil Rights Act.
She was not fired because of her gender, the court decided, but because her boss and his wife felt Nelson was a threat to their marriage.
Nelson was hired in 1999 as a dental assistant for James Knight. She stayed on at the Fort Dodge business for more than 10 years.
"The court got it absolutely right," said Stuart Cochrane, Knight's attorney. He said that for the Iowa Supreme Court to have acted otherwise, it would have had to "ignore every other case we could find" with similar facts.
At first blush, he said, the result might sound bizarre. But Cochrane stressed that if all the facts of the case were known, the court's decision would seem more fair.
"He and his wife really agonized about it," Cochrane said about Knight. "He didn't want to terminate her."
According to the high court's decision, Knight complained to Nelson toward the end of her employment that her clothes were tight and "distracting." Cochrane said Knight asked her repeatedly to dress differently.
Nelson denied that what she wore was out of place, and when asked by CNN's Lemon whether she dressed appropriately at work, she said she wore scrubs.