Firing Is In the Eye of the Beholder

     Don't hate me because I'm beautiful.
     Really. Don't. Especially if we're in Iowa.
     I say this because the Iowa Supreme Court has given us a wonderful seasonal tale just in time for the holidays in which we learn that being sexually attracted to someone has nothing to do with gender.
     "(T)he question we must answer is ... whether an employee who has not engaged in flirtatious conduct may be lawfully terminated simply because the boss views the employee as an irresistible attraction," the court wrote in Nelson v. Knight.
     The answer, according to this court (which, as Iowa media noted, is made up of a bunch of guys), is that "such a decision is not gender-based, nor it is based on factors that might be a proxy gender."
     Factors like sexual attraction.
     This ruling is so entertaining that I don't want to spoil it for you. Read the court's description of the facts. Go on - I'll wait here for you until you're through ...
     Are you back?
     See what I mean?
     My favorite part is the scene in which the defendant calls the ex-employee's husband into his office to tell that him that he had to fire the guy's wife because he was afraid he'd try to have an affair with her.
     Picture that. I'm having trouble doing that without picturing the husband leaping over the desk and slapping the defendant.
     Be that as it may, the plaintiff was fired to protect her from sexual harassment on the job. What else could the boss possibly have done?
     Now that's a caring employer.
     There are some truly wonderful bits of reasoning in this ruling.
     How could this not be sex discrimination?
     Because, said the court, "Dr. Knight replaced Nelson with another female."
     So if you replace a beautiful woman with an ugly woman, that's fine. Replacing an ugly woman with a beautiful one is a lawsuit waiting to happen - I think. Actually, I'm not too sure what this court would come up with.
     For the time being, though, plain women finally have an advantage in the job market.
     Attractiveness (or lack thereof) is therefore a legitimate hiring criterion in Iowa.
     The court also noted that a hostile environment wasn't created in this workplace because, after all, the plaintiff was fired before there could be one (except, as you know from reading the ruling, the hostile attitude from the boss's wife).
     Harmony rules.
     It's a heartwarming seasonal tale and I don't think even the losing plaintiff could be too upset. After all, now she has a scrapbook full of stories describing her as irresistible.
     It's got to be good for the ego.
     
     Parallel Logic. Beauty isn't the only disadvantage in the job market. So is good health.
     A federal judge in Minnesota has ruled that an employer who fired someone because he thought the employee had a disability can't be sued under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
     Why not?
     Because the employee wasn't disabled.
     Check out Valdez v. Minnesota Quarries Inc. in which a guy was fired because his boss thought he might have been exposed to swine flu.
     It turned out, though, that swine flu isn't all that bad, even though the boss thought it was bad enough to fire someone over.
     So the guy was fired for a nonexistent disability, and the ADA is meant to protect the disabled - or the perceived-to-be-disabled - if the disability is serious.
     But it doesn't protect the perceived-to-be-disabled if the disease turns out to be not so bad despite what people think.
     Protection from disability discrimination isn't meant for healthy people, no matter what their bosses think.
     Don't hate me because I'm healthy.