VICARIOUS LIABILITY OF DENTAL STAFF MEMBERS

In today’s legal environment, a owner of a dental practice may be vicariously liable for the errors and omissions of staff members. As a general rule, the risks are clinical in nature, however, a substantial amount of errors or omissions occur as a result of miscommunication. In matters of alleged patient miscommunication, a patient alleges that they were told the wrong clinical information, or were never told the correct clinical information at all.

Although, claims arising from a dentist’s vicarious liability for the clinical error or omission of a staff member may not be very common, dental malpractice claims arise from a patient’s dissatisfaction with staff member interaction. A dental practice owner can manage the risks of staff members by hiring qualified individuals, who can project the desired image of the practice, are well trained, and communicate in a clear manner.
 

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Stuart J. Oberman, Esq handles a wide range of legal issues for the dental profession including cyber security breaches, employment law, practice sales, OSHA, and HIPAA compliance, real estate transactions, lease agreements, noncompete agreements, dental board complaints, and professional corporations.
For questions or comments regarding this article
please call (770) 554-1400 or visit www.obermanlaw.com

If you would like Stuart J. Oberman, Esq. to speak at an event to your organization, please contact Katharine Drum, Marketing Coordinator (kath@obermanlaw.com)

 

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Pregnancy and Employment in the Dental Practice

Due to the vast number of female employees in the dental field, the issue of employee pregnancy arises frequently. Many dentists fail to abide by federal law in their dealings with pregnant employees because they simply aren’t familiar with the legislation protecting the pregnant employee: the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA). However, the lack of knowledge surrounding these laws can be costly and can lead dental employers straight into disputes with labor boards.

The Family and Medical Leave Act applies to employers with fifty (50) or more employees. Covered employers must provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to eligible employees. In addition, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), which applies to employers with fifteen (15) or more employees, also prohibits discrimination against pregnant women.

These federal laws provide that women affected by pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions shall be treated the same for all employment-related purposes as other persons not so affected but similar in their ability or inability to work. Further, most states have enacted their own pregnancy discrimination laws. Many states have also lowered the covered employer threshold to those employers with fewer than fifteen (15) employees, with some states requiring that employers with four (4) or more employees comply with such laws.

When federal or state pregnancy laws apply to your dental office, it is important to be aware of and to adhere to certain guidelines. First, if the pregnant employee refuses or is unable to perform certain tasks, then the dental employer must determine what accommodations may be needed. However, if the accommodation would cause an undue hardship and require significant difficulty or expense for the employer, then the employer may deny any accommodation. In addition, when federal or state laws apply to a dental practice, the dentist must remember that it is illegal to deny employment, promotions, or to fire a woman because she is pregnant. Finally, employees returning from a pregnancy leave are entitled to return to their former or a similar position at the same work schedule and pay, unless there is a legitimate business reason as to why that job is no longer available.

Women are a protected class, and if an employee’s pregnancy is handled inappropriately, the employer could end up in court, incurring costly fees and time away from the practice. Therefore, it is extremely important that dental employers familiarize themselves with the laws that apply to their practice. Those who believe themselves the victim of discrimination in the workplace in the Kansas City area may want to visit Brady & Associates to see how their attorneys can assist.

Stuart J. Oberman, Esq handles a wide range of legal issues for the dental profession including cyber security breaches, employment law, practice sales, OSHA, and HIPAA compliance, real estate transactions, lease agreements, noncompete agreements, dental board complaints, and professional corporations.

For questions or comments regarding this article please call (770) 554-1400 or visit www.obermanlaw.com If you would like Stuart J. Oberman, Esq. to speak at an event to your organization, please contact Katharine Drum, Marketing Coordinator (kath@obermanlaw.com)

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