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Is The Doctor In?

IS THE DOCTOR IN? - By now, most of you have either read the story or heard about the Iowa dentist who fired his assistant, Melissa Nelson, because he found her “irresistible.”

There have been a lot of jokes going around, critiquing of Mrs. Nelson’s appearance and how lame or noble the dentist, James Knight must be.  Is anyone still willing to talk about it, because I have a few thoughts.  Yeah, OK.  Feel free to think it’s old news and what can I add, but just give me a chance.

When I first heard the news I found Mr. Knight to be an honorable man.  How many men would take the step of distancing themselves from an attractive woman?

Then I found out Mrs. Nelson had been his assistant for 10 years.  Really…and he did not find her attractive before now?  It is possible.  We have all met someone who we weren’t particularly fond of only to find out that they are witty, very smart and fun to be around.  In my case this involves the in-laws, but that is a story for another day.

Let’s re-examine the facts:  Melissa was hired when she was either 21 or 22 years of age.  Within those years of employment, she got married and started her family.  Dr. Knight was 42 or 43 at the time of her hiring and obviously thought she would be a good fit with the rest of his office workers and patients.  He was right.  He even called her a “stellar employee” in one article.  Unfortunately I could not find very much information on Dr. Knight to fill in his personal background but we do know that he is currently married with children.

Doctors Office

They work together every day, sharing about the kids, the spouses and what is going on in their lives.  They are an encouragement and a support for each other and she looks up to him as an older, wiser man.   So what changed?

What happened to take it from friendly and safe to bordering on inappropriate behavior that could wreck the lives of two families?

Here is where there are no facts being revealed and we can only guess.  From where I sit, they have both hit the “golden age.”

He is in his 50′s, settled with a wife and children, and it is time for a mid-life crisis.  She is in her early 30′s and in my opinion that is the time when women are the most beautiful.

They are growing into themselves, showing more confidence in who they are, have an established style of dress that will change very little over the coming years, and are normally a bit more outspoken.  They have both peaked.

We have been given a glimpse into what it was like at work:  He has accused her of wearing too-tight clothing.  She says she wore scrubs, not really an answer since they come in different sizes and cuts.

She talked about her sex life and he commented.  Now, that is too personal, and entirely inappropriate.  Either of them could have filed a sexual complaint but they didn’t, pointing to a familiarity and comfort not normally displayed in a place of business.  Their families spent time together, knew each other;  And, oh yeah, his wife worked in the same office.

Then Melissa began texting him.  Why would she?  Hey, why does anyone text?  It is because it is private.  No one knows who you are talking to or what is being said.  She sees him all day and yet she still feels the need to text him.  As a man, what does this say to you?  As a man’s wife, how does this make you feel when you realize what is going on and where it could lead?

So together he and his wife talked,  then they met with their Pastor.  The three of them met again only this time included Melissa so all these issues could be brought out and resolved with a third party present.

Unfortunately, it was not resolved and it was time to take positive action.   Melissa was discharged from her job with one month’s severance as compensation.  The only reason given was that Dr. Knight found her “irresistible.”  He did at a later time speak with Melissa’s husband and explain that he was beginning to have feelings for her and was concerned enough about both families and marriages that letting her go seemed the only answer.

Was Melissa treated unfairly?  I don’t think so.  There was a problem, it was explained, she refused to comply and was let go with a monetary supplement.  She decides to take the issue before a judge and loses before it even goes to court, after which she appeals to a higher court and loses again.   Only then is it news and we all hear about it.

Was Dr. Knight wrong or unfair in his treatment of Melissa?  Yes and no.  It appears that he tried to remedy the situation and when that proved to be fruitless, he compensated by giving Melissa severance pay when she was dismissed.  Yes, in that he is/was the boss, they are both adults and supposedly mature.  If it had been addressed earlier there may have been a different outcome.

I do find the term “irresistible” amusing.  I mean, he cannot resist her or the temptation of spending more time with her?  Maybe he thought it was a compliment.  He sure couldn’t fire her because of her work ethic.

Was her severance a “green” apology or a plea of  “let’s keep this quiet?”  On the flip side, in Melissa’s shoes I would be very upset about losing my job, although  I would be relieved not to have to deal with a man who apparently cannot trust himself around me.

There are many missing facts and details in the articles and videos available that I researched.  What about the other girls in the office, what do patients have to say?  Why is Melissa the only one talking?  Something is hinky about this whole thing and unless someone else speaks up we are left to make a judgement based on what we do know or to shake our heads over another office romance.

Maybe the movie will come out next year.

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employmentFiring an EmployeeWrongful Dismissal