$175,000 Settlement Against Monarch Dental for Sexual Harassment, Training Ordered

 
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
 

Question:  Would sexual harassment training have prevented this case?  See our trainings at http://www.hrclassroom.com.

Smile Brands of Texas, L.P., a Burleson, Texas dental practice that did business as Monarch Dental, will pay $175,000 and furnish other relief to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

The EEOC's suit, brought under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division (3:10-CV-1903-K), charged that Monarch Dental subjected employees Deanna Chaney and Jan Pawelek to a sexually hostile work environment.  According to the EEOC, a male lead dentist began subjecting dental hygienist Deanna Chaney and dental assistant Jan Pawelek to unwanted sexual conduct shortly after they started working in the defendants' Burleson office.  The EEOC contends that the harassment of Pawelek included unwanted sexual comments, 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 requests.  The EEOC further alleged that Pawelek complained to management about the lead dentist's harassment, but the company failed to conduct a proper investigation and did not discipline the dentist.

Chaney was also subjected to unwelcome sexual conduct, according to the EEOC, as the dentist told her unsolicited sexual stories, directed unwanted sexual comments to her, touched her breast, attempted to kiss her and made sexual comments about female patients.  According to the EEOC, Chaney also complained to management about the lead dentist's behavior, but no appropriate action was taken to ensure that the harassment ended.  Chaney, unable to further endure the harassment, requested and was given a transfer to a different Monarch location in 2009.  The dentist identified by the women as a harasser ceased to be employed by Monarch last month.

"My goal from the beginning was to have Monarch place importance on having a harassment-free work environment and to give employees a way to report harassment," said Chaney.  "I am happy that this settlement will result in Monarch taking seriously complaints of sexual harassment made by employees." 

Pawelek added, "I wish I had never experienced the harassment, but with this settlement, I have peace of mind knowing that Monarch Dental will have a better work environment for its female employees."

Under the settlement, which was filed by the court as a consent decree, the defendants have agreed to pay Chaney and Pawelek $175,000.  The business will also undergo extensive corrective measures, including training managerial employees at six of their facilities to educate them regarding the law against sexual harassment and the proper procedures on investigations of complaints.  The defendants have also agreed to post a notice to inform employees of their rights under the law.

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