The Iowa Supreme Court made national and international headlines late last year when it ruled that a Fort Dodge dentist was within his rights to fire a good employee simply because he found her irresistible and a threat to his marriage. We asked our readers their thoughts on the issue, and while the vote was about two-thirds against the ruling, the responses were passionate from both sides. Below is a sampling of the responses, which ranged from the outraged, to the sympathetic. The toxicity of a question like this is displayed in the responses, as of those who provided a response supporting the less popular side of the debate, not a single person felt comfortable enough to provide their name. One thing is for sure, this isn’t a situation any business owner or employee wants to find themselves in.

- Chris Conetzkey, Editor of the Business Record

We asked:
Should it be legal for an employer to fire an employee who is viewed as a threat to his/her marriage?

You responded (via a Business Record poll)
Yes: 29.6%
No: 66.4%
Undecided: 4%

Shawn ClarkWilt, Owner, Crooked Trees LLC.

No: This sets a precedent for employers to fire anyone simply because they might put negative thoughts of action into someone’s mind. Discrimination based on thoughts? Do we not hire paroled convicts because we might be inclined to commit a crime? When is someone held accountable for their own actions, or in this case, NO action.

Scott Berry, Vice President, Stanbrough Realty

No: Because this is 2013, NOT 1953! Guys who can’t control themselves, and/or wives who are insanely jealous, are NOT a “protected class”!

Michael Wolnerman, Senior Sales Associate, OutcomesMTM

No: This is ridiculous and awful! It made national headlines? Friends and family have reached out to me from all over the country about this news and I am speechless. I’m surrounded by beautiful, happy, shiny people at my office and love it. My wife knows where my heart is and has no problem with my co-workers or me for that matter.

Carol Pollock, Executive Director, Hoyt Sherman Place

No: I think an employer who fires an employee because she/he is viewed as a threat to a marriage has some serious personal problems within the marriage that need to be resolved. Depriving a good loyal employee of their livelihood because he views her/him as a distraction to his daily work is deplorable. I can only hope that many of his patients have the good sense to find a new dentist. I certainly would.

Greg France, Account Executive, Stroh Corporation

No : Why should someone lose their job because a supervisor can’t control themselves? If there was no harassment by the employee, he/she is punished for being attractive?


No: I am a successful MALE executive and for years have been responsible for hundreds of employees, men and women, young and old. The Iowa Supreme Court judges have lost their minds. This IS the 21st century and it IS blatant discrimination.


No: If the marriage is so poor to begin with, “everyone” is a threat. People have choices. Employers have choices. Choose the marriage or choose to give in to supposed temptation. It’s not the employee’s fault. Unless there is a non-fraternization agreement, the employee has done nothing wrong.


Yes: We’re an “at will” state. Besides, if he or she is that good looking they won’t have a problem finding another job.


Yes: I do not claim to know every detail of the story, but I feel that if the move was sincerely to protect his marriage, he did the right thing. Since he is self employeed, he has limited options and cannot change jobs. If he was not a business owner I would say too bad, get another job. Another point, is that some guys have addictions to women, kind of like an alcoholic. Do you think it’s right to have a bottle of whisky floating in a recovering alcoholic’s face all day long. I’m sorry ladies, but in this instance only, I am siding with the dentist.


Yes: It is unfortunate that the dentist was so severely tempted. Unfortunately, we all have our unique temptations that can overwhelm. That being said, his decision should be legal for at least two reasons. First, if it is his company the government should not interfere with his choice as to whom he employs (protected classes excepted). Second, any threat to a business owner’s marriage is a giant threat to the business as a whole and the jobs of all employees. The dentist should be commended for making the bold decision to face his own weakness and to mitigate the risk to everyone concerned. Truly, the easy thing would have been to pretend all was well and to do nothing.


Yes: This is a very unusual case. I do not expect it to occur very frequently. In this day and age of difficulty in finding good employees, the employer must have had significant issues to fire a good person. I do not think the law can detail every circumstance in which it will be applied. Yes, the employer should have the right to fire - even a good employee.


Yes: If a person has enough sense to realize the consequences of this magnitude and they own the company, rather than destroying everything in their life, it makes sense to make this decision.


Yes: Iowa is an “at will” state. You can fire somebody for any reason or no reason at all so long as it doesn’t violate a constitutional or statutory right. No such rights are at issue here.