Sexual harassment and abuse complaints have become frequent news segments these days. These stories regarding political and entertainment celebrities are making national and international headlines. Even though these stories are grabbing a share of the public's attention, there are abusers out there who are committing just as heinous crimes as those appearing in the media. Healthcare professional sexual harassment is also a problem, including those involving dentist sexual abuse.
Sexual abuse of a patient is an issue that just isn't going away, and is leaving a longstanding stain on the professional healthcare system. This form of abuse is a profound breach of trust, which is being perpetrated by a small number of the thousands of healthcare professionals in the country. We have to stop this abuse and report any and all who commit this crime and ensure perpetrators are not allowed to continue with new victims.
When a Dentist Commits Sexual Abuse
Sexual abuse is not often found crossing gender lines as it can also apply to same-sex harassment and sexual abuse. Men are most often found to be the perpetrators, with women being their victims, but it is not uncommon for men to become victims as well.
When the perpetrator is your dentist, it is not uncommon for you to experience self-doubt when considering telling someone about the incident. When someone is a trusted person, someone the public and most likely, your entire family puts at a higher standard of respect than others, it makes one think they may have misunderstood the dentist's intent. It is hard to believe, someone who's trusted and respected, probably for years, could commit such an act.
Society puts a lot of faith in medical and dental professionals. Patients trust their dentist to treat their ailment or condition and protect their well-being. This trust is placed in their hands, especially when you have to undergo an invasive procedure that will require you to be placed under anesthesia.
If you are employed by the dentist, the situation is complicated and sensitive as well. When you are an employee of a dentist and become a victim of sexual abuse from this professional, you may have serious worries about blowing the whistle on their behavior as it could affect your career.
When a dentist commits sexual abuse, it is a heinous crime as it also violates the public trust. These professionals are held at a high standard of conduct, much like other healthcare providers, and patients willingly and trustingly go to their office when they are at a most vulnerable time. Dentist-hygienist and dentist-patient sexual abuse and harassment cases are beginning to surface and hit the news.
If you have visited your dentist and experienced sexual misconduct of any form, you need to contact an attorney to seek compensation. If you work for a dentist who has exhibited any forms of sexual abuse, or they have failed to live up to expected standards, you have a legal right to seek compensation for damages these experiences can cause. It is prohibited by the law for a dentist to display any form of sexual misconduct against their patients or employees, and this professional can lose their license to practice, as well as other privileges and rights when they are found guilty.
There are certain cases where sexual harassment incidents are not addressed when reported, and the situations begin to escalate. Situations that could have been handled with a blunt conversation regarding what appropriate behavior is and what boundaries are expected to be respected can often stop the behavior. If it is not reported and not addressed, the behavior not only continues but can become extremely more dangerous. If you do not report the incident to management, you will have no support and will not be empowered to handle the situation.
It is the responsibility of the employee to report incidents that involve sexual abuse or harassment to either their manager or to human resources. There are a lot of dentists who are doctor-run and small practices, so they do not have the same infrastructure as a clinic or hospital. There may not always be a human resources department or a legal team to help you set the appropriate policies and guidelines. If you are working in a private, small practice, as a dental hygienist, sexually abused by the dentist, you will have to contact an attorney to help you fight against these actions. Stop Sexual Abuse Law Firm has the understanding and experience to help you through this difficult time. We have been protecting victim's rights for decades and are ready to help you fight this injustice.
Different people interpret the same behavior differently, and why it is essential to refer to any actions thought of as workplace harassment to someone who can refer to the workplace harassment laws. These laws are part of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 Title VII, and they prohibit any type of harassment or discrimination in the workplace. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, established by the Federal government, regulates and enforces discrimination laws. It is stated in the guidelines that only companies who employ fifteen or more employees are covered under these laws. Individuals who work in smaller practices and who are not considered large enough to be covered under the EEOC have civil laws that are an effective alternative to protect them from the same abuse, harassment, or discrimination.
Behaviors and What to Expect in Medical Setting
When you go to a medical professional, whether a dentist or a medical doctor, you have a level of expected behavior in their medical setting:
- End the exam
- If at any time during a dental or medical exam, you feel uncomfortable with the behavior of your dentist, you can let them know you are uncomfortable with their behavior and request to end the exam before any treatment is provided, especially before anesthesia is given.
- Ask for a second party to be in the room
- If you are uncomfortable being alone with your dentist but are unsure whether to stop treatment, you can ask that another adult be present in the room with you during the procedure.
- Request a different gender
- If you feel it would be more comfortable to have a dentist of the same gender, it is your right to request another dentist. This request may require choosing a different dentist, and it might not be possible to complete the procedure until a new dentist is assigned.
- Have questions answered
- If you ask your dentist about their actions, they should answer truthfully and right away.
- Your pain should be taken seriously
- The dentist or dental professional examining you should alert you if any part of the treatment is going to cause discomfort or pain. If you tell them to stop at any time, they must honor your request.
As a patient, you have rights as to what your body and mind can accept. If at any time you are uncomfortable with any portion of your treatment, the medical professional should immediately stop until you give the right to proceed.
Dentist Sexual Abuse
Sexual harassment or abuse is any unwelcome verbal, physical, or written conduct that creates a hostile or intimidating environment. Quid pro quo is the most common form of workplace sexual abuse. This form is when an employee is made to feel they have to comply with the sexual advancements of a superior or suffer adverse employment decisions. These negative decisions can include increased pay, a promotion, and even continued employment.
Sexual abuse by a dentist can take a number of forms. The abuse hinges on the unwelcome physical contact, suggestions, invitations, or verbal comments made by your dentist. The abuse can be committed by the dentist, dental assistant, dental hygienist, or other staff members in the practice. To be considered sexual abuse, the law requires the conduct to include:
- Being unwelcome
- Repetitive, ongoing, or pervasive
In cases that are making media headlines, the patients were sexually abused while they were under anesthesia. Because anesthesia makes a person unconscious, they were not able to prove or testify to the abuse that occurred. These situations cause a victim to feel ashamed, humiliated, vulnerable, and unwilling to report the sexual abuse they suffered from at the hands of their dentist.
It is reported that adults who have experienced sexual abuse often find it difficult to tolerate dental treatments. The study conducted on both men and women about their experiences with health care professionals, including dentists, identified themes and patterns. The participants reported portions of dental treatments that are particularly difficult, including how they are placed in certain body positions, which leaves them with a sense of no control and fear.
If you suspect your dentist has sexually abused you while unconscious during treatment, you should seek medical evaluations and report the incident to your local police, as well as the state licensing agency responsible for giving your dentist their license to practice. Punishments that can be delivered to a dentist found guilty of sexual abuse are:
- Suspension of their dental license
- Loss of having hospital privileges
- Revocation of their dental license
You should also contact an attorney familiar with sexual abuse under California state laws. You have the right to file charges in civil court for this abuse, and Stop Sexual Abuse Law Firm is here for you to ensure your rights are protected, and your injuries are compensated.
Liability for Sexual Abuse if the Dentist is Part of a Practice Group
When a dentist is part of a practice group, there are cases where the practice itself can be held liable for sexual abuse that occurs within the group. This liability is often attached if the owner claims they had no knowledge of the incident. If this is the case, assets of the practice can be attached in order to satisfy an imposed judgment. The owner of the dental group can assert a lack of knowledge; however, the jury can find that they should have known the events were occurring. Liability of the owner of the dental practice can be imposed when:
- There is general knowledge within the office of the facts surrounding the abuse
- When a supervisor of one in charge of staff is the harasser or abuser
- When the one in charge of staff is aware of issues but takes no action to correct
- When the one in charge of staff is aware of events but does not inform the owner of the practice group
When a supervisor is given authority over other staff members, it makes the dental practice group legally responsible for any misdeeds committed by this party. A supervisor is generally given direct control over the subordinates and recruitment and is the one to recommend disciplinary procedures to the owners of the practice group.
If the owner of the dental practice claims to have no knowledge, regardless if the facts are common knowledge, the courts can conclude that their conduct constitutes deliberate ignorance, or they have turned a 'blind eye' to the sexual abuse occurring within their group.
If the supervisor is the abuser, the practice group can also be held responsible for placing the perpetrator in a position of authority. The dental practice group will be held responsible for the supervisor’s conduct of sexual abuse.
Sexual harassment and abuse make a work environment a hostile place for employees. When coworkers or superiors engage in unwelcome or pervasive conduct, it causes unreasonable interference for an employee to function in their workplace. This conduct can include:
- Physical exposure
- Inappropriate or pervasive humor in a conversation
- Unwelcome comments regarding a person’s appearance
- Demands or requests for sexual favors
- Accidental touching that occurs repeatedly
- Offensive contact both verbally and physically
- Distributing or displaying offensive materials
- Unwelcome and repeated invitations
- Innuendos of an offensive nature
If an incident is determined to be 'mild,' it is not classified as harassment, and off-hand comments or teasing are not considered harassment as well. These situations, however, do not mean it is not within your rights to speak up and politely ask that the behavior stop. Often if witty retort is not stopped, it can become fuel for inappropriate behavior, so it is best to stop any uncomfortable banter before it becomes serious harassment or abuse.
If you are receiving unwelcome verbal or physical contact of any kind in your workplace, it is important to place your abuser on notice immediately. The court will take into consideration how easy it is for a victim to leave a relationship before experiencing hardship. A dentist who harasses a patient before beginning treatment or performing oral surgery would constitute a situation where you can leave before becoming a victim.
If the abuse or harassment escalates even after you have made repeated requests for it to stop, you will then need to escalate the situation. Management would be the first one to report the incident to, and if they fail to follow through, you will need to contact the EEOC. If the dental practice is not protected under the EEOC because there are less than fifteen employees, then you have to contact the Medical Board of California.
Swift action is necessary as there is a statute of limitations applied to sexual abuse claims against a dentist. If the limitations expire, you can no longer file a complaint. Don't be afraid, and don't' wait to make your claim. It is against the law for your dentist to retaliate or take any form of negative employment actions against you for filing a complaint of sexual abuse. Stop Sexual Abuse Law Firm understands how difficult this time is for you, and your fear in reporting your abuse. We will stand beside you and ensure you are protected and compensated for this heinous crime.
California Civil Code and Dentist Sexual Abuse
Sexual harassment laws in the State of California, allow you to sue if you have experienced sexual harassment or abuse in the context of a professional relationship, including doctor-patient relationships. The term doctor covers a wide range of healthcare professionals, including dental hygienists, dental administrators, orthodontists, dentists, allied doctors, and other specialist fields.
A patient or employee of a dental group who has been harassed or abused by a dentist or third party has the legal right to file a civil lawsuit. The three main requirements that need to be present in the behavior of your abuser include:
- Their attention or actions were unwanted
- Their actions or behaviors were severe
- Their actions or behaviors were pervasive
Behavior is defined as pervasive if it happens on a frequent basis. You can also sue for isolated incidents if the event is considered severe, which is often the case involving physical assault or abuse, or if you’ve been threatened with physical assault.
When filing a civil case, the law will take into consideration personal injury. Sexual abuse often involves a violation of statutory or constitutional rights as well as emotional distress. Those rights include the right to be free from discrimination based on your gender. If, as a patient of a dentist who has sexually abused you, you have the legal right to go directly to the Medical Board of California or contact a sexual harassment attorney. Stop Sexual Abuse Law Firm will help you through the legal process necessary to file a complaint with the Medical Board. We will ensure your abuser faces full accountability for the crime committed against you.
Legal Recourse for Dentist Sexual Abuse
If you have been sexually abused by a dentist or a staff member of a dental group, you have legal recourse in both criminal and civil court. The incident must be reported to the police department, and you should contact a personal injury attorney familiar with sexual abuse in California. Stop Sexual Abuse Law firm has the experience needed to handle these lawsuits.
Depending on the abuse you've suffered, you may be asked to provide evidence in the form of photographs, but this is not always asked for in less severe cases. The State of California has a victim's compensation fund, which you have access to for financial assistance should you need this help. Stop Sexual Abuse Law Firm will discuss your options for applying to this fund should you find you need financial assistance.
There are timelines set by the state for filing a lawsuit. Your attorney at Stop Sexual Abuse Law Firm may want to include medical malpractice or professional negligence to your sexual abuse lawsuit, and these charges do have shorter deadlines in terms of statute limitations. It is important you contact the Stop Sexual Abuse Law Firm as soon as possible so we can discuss your options and ensure all filings are done within the time limits. We are prepared to stand with you from initiation to settlement and help make this process as easy as possible.
Compensation for Dentist Sexual Abuse
Experiencing sexual abuse by a trusted professional such as your dentist is devastating. This emotional trauma often leaves its victims feeling ashamed, frightened, and as if they have somehow deserved these actions. You are not alone in this tragedy; others have gone before you and paved a path to justice. You deserve compensation for your injuries, whether physical or emotional and Stop Sexual Abuse Law Firm is here for you to see that you receive justice against this crime.
There are laws in place that protect you from sexual abuse and retaliation. Whether you are an employee of the dental practice or a patient, you will be heard, and justice can be served. Stop Sexual Abuse Law Firm is ready to stand with you against this abuse and make sure it doesn't happen again to you or any potential future victims this dentist may encounter.
Where to Find Help for Dentist Sexual Abuse Near Me
If you have experienced sexual abuse at the hands of a trusted professional such as your dentist, you need to contact Stop Sexual Abuse Law Firm. We are zealous advocates against sexual violence and will stop at nothing to ensure you receive the best possible representation against your abuser. Call us at 310-359-9451 and discuss your case with a compassionate and knowledgeable attorney so we can begin building your case against this heinous crime. We have decades of experience helping those who have been sexually abused, and understand the emotional anguish abuse causes. Call today and let us help you begin your journey to recovery and compensation.