How To Handle Discrimination Claims in Your Dental, Optometry, Veterinary, or Medical Practice

Employees filed more than 1 million employment discrimination complaints in the last 10 years, and in 82 percent of these cases, the employee didn’t receive any form of employment relief. "Discrimination" is a broad, all-inclusive term that doesn't reflect the emotional consequences of treating someone differently because of who they are. Discrimination hurts. Discrimination sucks. And it's your job to do something about it. Otherwise, you could face steep penalties for breaking anti-discrimination legislation.

In the wake of the ongoing George Floyd protests around the world, dental, optometry, veterinary and medical practice owners/HR managers should review their discrimination policies and procedures. This guide provides tips for handling discrimination claims in your practice.

Discrimination Claims in Healthcare

What You Should Know About Discrimination Claims in Dentistry, Optometry, Veterinary and Medical Practices

Discrimination in the healthcare practice is bound by a patchwork of legislation mandated by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). There are various protections against discrimination based on someone's:

  • Race
  • Color
  • Religion
  • Sex
  • National origin
  • Age
  • Disability
  • Marital status 
  • Political affiliation

There are penalties for dental, optometry, veterinary and medical practice owners who violate the law. 

Making sense of anti-discrimination legislation can be difficult, especially when there are so many insurance and labor laws at the federal and state levels, as well as other provisions such as HIPAA. Consulting an HR expert like HR for Health will keep your organization compliant. Click here to learn more

How Do Discrimination Claims Start?

Discrimination means different things to different people, but it can result in one, or more, of the following:

  • A job refusal
  • Dismissal
  • Denial of career/training opportunities
  • Someone not being paid the same as someone else (for doing the same job)
  • Someone being excluded, isolated or bullied

An example of this could be a dental hygienist getting paid less than her male counterpart. Or excluding potential candidates for your optometric assistant role because of age, race, or ethnicity.

How to Handle Discrimination Claims in Your Practice

There are various steps to take when someone makes an allegation of discrimination (or harassment):

Discrimination Claims in Healthcare

Recognize the Complaint 

Have a procedure in place for managing complaints and escalating the most serious allegations and outline these in your employee handbook. You should investigate every discrimination complaint, no matter how small or insignificant you think it is. 

Gather Information

It's always a good idea to get someone's complaint in writing before you proceed with an investigation. Then, gather as much information as possible. This includes identifying witnesses and collecting documentation that supports or contradicts the complaint.

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Take Action

Your investigation might take several weeks (or even months) to complete. Keeping everyone updated could prevent an expensive lawsuit. The outcome of your investigation might involve:

Make a Record of Your Investigation

Making a record of how you deal with complaints is important for compliance. If someone sues you in court, you might have to explain the decisions you made during the investigation, including all outcomes. 

As you can see, employee discrimination complaints are complex, and you need to have a reliable and effective process in place for your dental, opometry, veterinary or medical practice. HR for Health can provide you with resources to aid discrimination complaints and investigations, as well as other materials that streamline human resources and compliance in your practice. Click here to schedule an HR consultation. 

Final Word

Discrimination claims are a crucial component of dental, optometry, veterinary and medical employee management. Understanding how complaints arise, and how to manage them, will keep you on the right side of the law.

About HR for Health

HR for Health is an all-in-one HR software solution dedicated to helping the dental, optometry, and veterinary industries. Our human resources platform features all the tools practice owners need to manage payroll, timekeeping, 401(k), and more with total integration and ease.

Whether you’re looking for HR support for a small business or you’re a large group dental practice, HR for Health has the solution to fit your practice and budget. Reach out to a HR for Health account representative to learn more, today: Book Time Here

Looking for a helping hand with discrimination claims in healthcare?  Schedule an HR Consultation Today


Quick note: This is not to be taken as legal or HR advice. Since employment laws change over time and can vary by location and industry, consult a lawyer or HR expert for specific guidance. Learn about HR for Health's HR services.