Unfortunately, across New York City and other places in the country, employees are fired on a daily basis for reasons that they feel are unfair. In New York, because most employment is "at will," any employer can fire any employee for almost any reason they deem worthy of termination. With the exception of terminating an employment relationship on the grounds of protected classes -- like ethnic or national origin, color, race, age, pregnancy, religion or sex -- an employee can be fired for things that are unfair, but not necessarily illegal or reprehensible in a courtroom.
A female dental hygienist from Iowa filed a gender discrimination lawsuit when her employer fired her for being too attractive. The 32-year-old female was an employee for a decade under the dentist she said was like a father figure. Both parties are married and even have children, the woman said she never even thought of having a relationship with the dentists.
However, the dentist did not have such control over his thoughts. When the two began exchanging innocent text messages, the dentist's wife, who is also a hygienist at the office, demanded that the 32-year-old be fired because she was worried her husband would try to cheat on her. Reportedly, the dentist's actions never escalated to the point of sexual harassment, therefore when the woman was fired with a month's severance, she filed a gender discrimination lawsuit.
The attorney that represented the dentist cited that the woman was fired from an all-woman team and even replace by another woman as evidence that the dentist was not discriminatory. The court decided that the woman was fired because she caused discord in the marriage rather than because of her gender. Therefore, while this woman felt that this was unjust and unfair, the court decided that it was not illegal.
In cases like this in New York that can fall on a line that is blurred, it is best to speak with experienced legal counsel to see if an employer acted in an illegal manner that could be reprehensible in court.
Source: Star Tribune, "Wife forces husband to fire 'irresistible' dental hygienist; Iowa court says OK," Ryan J. Foley, Dec. 25, 2012
- Our firm has experience handling cases of possible employment discrimination in New York. For more information, please visit our New York wrongful termination page.