EEOC Says Lead Dentist Subjected Employees to Unwanted Sexual Conduct And Vulgar Comments about Female Patients
DALLAS – The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced today that it has filed a discrimination lawsuit against Smile Brands of Texas. L.P., formerly known as Bright Now! Dental Association, L.P., doing business as Monarch Dental Associates, L.P. which operates a practice in Burleson, Texas, alleging that two female employees there were subjected to a sexually hostile work environment by the lead dentist.
In its lawsuit, the EEOC charges that lead dentist David Mikitka began subjecting dental hygienist Deanna Chaney and dental assistant Jan Pawelek to unwanted sexual conduct shortly after they started working in Monarch Dental’s Burleson office. The EEOC says that Mikitka’s harassment of Pawelek included unwanted sexual comments to her, touching her in a sexual manner, and making sexual comments about female patients in her presence. According to the EEOC, Pawelek repeatedly told the dentist to stop his unwanted sexual behavior but he ignored her multiple requests. The EEOC further contends that Pawelek complained to management about the harassment, but that Monarch Dental failed to conduct a proper investigation and to administer appropriate discipline.
The EEOC also alleges that Mikitka subjected Chaney to unwelcome sexual conduct, including telling sexual stories, directing unwanted sexual comments to her, touching her in a sexual manner, attempting to kiss her, and making sexual comments about female patients. According to the EEOC, Chaney also complained to management about the behavior, but no appropriate action was taken to ensure that the harassment ended. To date, Mikitka still works as the lead dentist there.
The suit, Civil Action No. 3:10-cv-01903-K, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division, seeks compensatory and punitive damages as well as injunctive relief. The EEOC filed suit after investigating the case and attempting to reach a voluntary settlement out of court.
“A medical or dental office is a place where both employees and patients should feel safe from sexually-charged comments or assessments,” said Regional Attorney Robert Canino of the EEOC’s Dallas District Office. “Even where patients may not personally observe the improprieties, female employees such as medical or dental assistants may be adversely affected by the atmosphere of disrespect that can permeate their workplace.”
EEOC Senior Trial Attorney Devika Seth added, “It is disturbing that an educated professional would use his authority to subject women to such sexually offensive behavior. We file this lawsuit with the expectation that the justice system will hold Monarch accountable for the sexually hostile work environment that it refused to correct.”
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on the agency’s web site at www.eeoc.gov.