The all-male Supreme Court of Iowa re-affirmed its holding that an employer did not engage in sexual harassment when an employee was fired by her boss because he found her sexually irresistible. He was afraid that, if she remained employed, he would not be able to control the temptation to have a sexual relationship with her in violation of his marital vows.
The Court held this was not because of her gender but because of his “feelings” specific to the employee. But wouldn’t that same analysis apply to quid pro quo harassment? Quid pro quo harassment occurs, among other circumstances, where an employer fires a particular employee because she or he refuses to submit to “sexual feelings” that a manager has for her or him.
In both cases, the manager’s actions are based on feelings. In both cases, those feeling relate directly to gender.
How can it be unlawful to terminate an employee because she won’t pull down a manager’s zipper but lawful to terminate an employee because the manager is afraid he will pull down his own zipper?
Not everything unfair is unlawful. But, in this case, I would be surprised if the unfairness were not deemed unlawful by the EEOC under federal law.