Woman Fired For Being Too Attractive – Not A Woman’s Issue Says Marriage Therapist

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Woman fired for being too attractive – this has been the topic of discussion this past week on many major news stations. The legal angle is the typical focus. This Marriage and Family Therapist shared my perspective focusing rather on the relationship angle from a mental health and wellness perspective. I, Dr. Karen Ruskin, invite you to view this intense and fiery discussion where I disagreed with the President of the National Organization For Women (NOW) when she stated that there is a “war on women”. This is not political says this Psychotherapist, rather it is relational. HUFF Post LIVE hosted this panel discussion with host Caroline Modarressey-Tehrani entitled: Hot Mess. In addition, in this blog you will find important questions and practical answers from this therapist’s mind’s eye. Fellow panelist Brad Dacus- President of the Pacific Justice Institute stated LIVE on air: “Thank you to the counselor”. Mr. Dacus expressed during our panel discussion that he is thanking me because I put this conversation into “reality”. Check out my documentation below.

The on air on HUFF Post LIVE panel discussion included the following participants:

  • Dr. Karen Ruskin – Marriage & Family Therapist, Psychotherapist
  • Melissa Nelson – Fired Dental Assistant
  • Paige Fiedler – Melissa’s Attorney
  • Terry O’Neill – President of the National Organization For Women
  • Brad Dacus – President of the Pacific Justice Institute

Brief Simple Version Of The Background:

Dr. James Knight and his wife felt that Dr. Knight’s dental assistant Melissa Nelson was a threat to their marriage. Dr. Knight reported that his feelings for Melissa went beyond employer and employee. In order to save his marriage and not take action on a desire to have an affair with Melissa, after consulting with his priest, it was decided that he would fire Melissa. Melissa sued.

If you wish to read the court document to learn more about the details of this case and the ruling in the Doctor’s favor, I invite you to do so.

Questions And Answers With Dr. Karen Through The Lens Of Relational Health And Wellness:

  • Can a business owner fire who they want to even if it is no fault of the other person?

A boss of their own company has the right to hire and fire since it is their company. There are certainly realities in life and this is one of them.

  •  Is it possible that a woman can be fired because she was too hot?

Certainly I am not denying that there is a possibility that can happen. Although, I think that is likely not to be the scenario for most cases. My analysis is that the media enjoys spinning that the woman is “too hot” or “too attractive” and that is why she was fired. I contend it is typically the relationship dynamic that leads to the firing.

  • What are one’s choices when you no longer wish to work with an employee of the company you own, as that person’s presence/ the relationship you have with that person is a threat to your marriage/your family? 

When you have a problem with an employee and you own the company (due to no fault of that person) you have 2 choices:

1. View the situation differently and cope with the challenge more effectively so no one gets hurt. (This is of course the ideal scenario. The reality is that we as human’s are not always able to handle life’s challenges as effectively as we would like).

2. Get out of harms way.

Relational Problem Solution Resolution When At Work – 2 Steps:

Step #1: Acknowledge the problem.

Step #2: Shift your thinking/view the person and the relationship differently so the problem ceases to exist. Cope more effectively so whatever is deemed a problem is no longer a problem.

If you are unable to do this second step, then you must separate yourself from the problem so as to keep yourself out of harms way from taking action on your thoughts. Ideally, since you are the one with the problem you are the one who must leave. The reality is that we live in a less then ideal world. If it is your own business, as unfair as it is for the employee, it is the employee that must leave because you cannot.

  • Are You A Victim If You Have Been Fired?

Perhaps you feel like a victim, but you do not have to choose to feel like a victim and thus you do not have to be a victim.

I have counseled many men and women through my 20 years as a mental health and wellness expert through their journey of being fired. It is a traumatic life event for many with a wide range of emotions and challenges to overcome in order to move forward. Let us use this moment as an opportunity for me to share a brief summary of what helps many when they have been fired due to no fault of their own. If you have been fired due to no fault of your own, and you are hurting emotionally, I urge you to go for counseling to help you to help yourself cope, adapt, heal, and move forward. My advice below is a brief summary, likely you may need to chat with a therapist directly.

‘Victim Mentality’ VS. ‘Life Challenge To Overcome Mentality’ - It is your mentality/philosophy that absolutely affects your ability to cope with, adapt to, heal, and move onward. It is not simply about surviving a fire, it is about how to survive and then thrive. If you view yourself as a victim, you will feel like a victim. If you feel like a victim, then you will behave like a victim. Viewing one’s self as a victim, feeling like a victim, and believing you are victim makes you feel defeated. This plays a significant role in feeling depressed and thus you likely will feel de-motivated to take action to help yourself move in a forward direction. It is imperative that if you have been fired due to no fault of your own, rather than viewing yourself as a victim, I would love to see the following. Choose to have the courage to cope, adjust to, and heal from what has taken place. Choose to view  yourself in a positive light and recognize that what the other person felt and then chose to do is their issue. Their actions does not define you. View the challenge and life change as an opportunity for entering the door to the next stage and phase of your life journey.

Take comfort in understanding the other person’s point of view and thus actions, and evaluate what your next step is. Make the choice to move forward and view this as a life challenge to overcome, not quick sand to sink into. Holding resentment toward the other person just keeps us stagnant in life. Take action and find another job.

  •  Does This Sort Of Thing Only Happen To Women?

During my interview on HUFF Post LIVE, the assertion from the woman fired, her lawyer, and the President of NOW inferred; being fired due to no fault of one’s own is purely a woman’s issue. I have seen time and time again men also faced with the challenge of confronting and overcoming a firing due to no fault of their own. This is not a woman vs. a man issue from this Psychotherapist/marriage and family therapist’s perspective . This is a relationship issue.

Fairness And Life’s Demands

“Immaturity is expecting life to meet your demands. Maturity is meeting the demands of life.” – Dr. Henry Cloud.

This statement is right on. Consider this and how it applies to the case at hand – for both sides.

Written by


Follow Dr. Karen on Twitter or Facebook. Media Psychotherapist Guest Expert; Relationships, Parenting, Hot Topics In The News. Appears on: The O'Reilly Factor, FOX & Friends, FOX & Friends FIRST, America Live, Hannity, regular go-to for FOX Boston, and more. Can be heard on Radio: FOX News, 96.9 Boston Talks, and more. Columnist, quoted in various print media: FOX Business, Boston Globe, Boston Herald, Care.com, USA Today, Parents, TIME, Woman's Day, and more. Owner/Director of Dr. Karen Ruskin & Associates, Inc. Based in Massachusetts. Author of: 9 Key Techniques For Raising Respectful Children and Dr. Karen's Marriage Manual. Copyright 2012.

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