As an employment lawyer, I’m still shaking my head over a recent ruling that a woman who was fired for being “too cute” has no claim for gender discrimination.
Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Shlomo Hagler ruled that a yoga instructor and massage therapist at the practice of Chiropractor Charles Nicolai could not claim gender discrimination after the chiropractor’s wife (and co-owner of the practice) terminated her for being “too cute.”
Not surprisingly, Dilek Edwards, the attorney for the fired employee, said the ruling would be appealed. In an article in the New York Law Journal, Attorney Maimon Kirschenbaum said, “How can it be that a woman’s appearance to a male boss is not gender-related? …if a male employer says to a woman ‘You cannot work here because you are not hot enough,’ wouldn’t that plainly be discrimination?”
This is not the first time this issue has come up and with the same outcome. In August 2010, an Iowa dental assistant Melissa Nelson filled suit for gender discrimination against the dentist who fired her after 10 years because he found her irresistibly attractive and a threat to his marriage. The judge dismissed the case before trial. In December 2012, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled that it was ok to terminate an employee “simply because the boss views the employee as an irresistible attraction.”
I think, both rulings are curious. It seems obvious that if a man fires a woman because he is attracted to her it’s an illegal gender-related decision. Discrimination has no place in the workplace, and hopefully, we won’t see more similar decisions in the future.