Too Pretty to Work Here


A man walks into a dentist’s office and asks how much to pull a tooth.  “$100,” the dentist says.  “That’s ridiculous,” the man says. “Isn’t there a cheaper way?” “Well,” the dentist says, “if I don’t use my assistant, I can knock the price down to $75.”  “Nope,” complains the man, “it’s still too much.” “Okay,” says the dentist. “If I save on anesthesia I can lower the price to $50.” “Still, too high,” bemoans the man.  “Alright,” replies the dentist, “If I skip on sterilizing and just use the pliers in my toolbox I can do it for $25.”    “Marvelous,” says the man, “book my wife for next Tuesday afternoon!”

This past week, a male dentist and his female assistant were in the news.  Dentist James Knight fired his assistant, Melissa Nelson, for being much too attractive.  (The doctor and his wife both agreed that the two medical professionals working together in such close quarters over long periods of time was not healthy for their marriage.)  The male dentist then immediately hired another female assistant who was much less attractive and therefore far less tempting.  The dismissed employee subsequently filed a job discrimination suit against her former employer.  The case went all the way to the Iowa supreme court where the seven judges ruled unanimously in favour of the dentist.  The reason?  It turns out that there are laws on the books protecting workers against discrimination based on race, gender, religion, etc., but not on appearance.  Neither beauty (nor ugly) are protected against termination.  As the chief justice wrote, “It may not be fair, but it is legal.”