Phillips & Associates

Sexual Harassment by Dentists

New York City Attorneys Protecting Your Rights in Health Care Settings

Although the media has been focused on sexual harassment in politics or glamorous industries such as Hollywood, sexual harassment also happens in far more ordinary situations. No industry is immune from sexual harassment. Often, sexual harassment occurs in situations in which there is a power imbalance, such as doctor-patient relationships. Sexual harassment by dentists is illegal under the New York City Human Rights Law. At Phillips & Associates, our New York City sexual harassment lawyers may be able to help you recover damages if you have been harassed by a dentist or dental assistant.

Sexual Harassment by Dentists

Often, dental practices are small and doctor-run. They may not have significant infrastructure or the expertise of an HR person who knows the law and investigates claims of sexual misconduct by employees or the boss. If you are a patient who believes that you have been sexually harassed by your dentist, you should consult an attorney who is knowledgeable in the New York City Human Rights Law. Among other things, the New York City Human Rights Law forbids gender discrimination in public accommodations.

Public accommodations are any organizations, persons, or businesses that provide services and goods to the public. In one case, a defendant dental practice argued that it was not a public accommodation under the state human rights law because the state law lists types of public accommodations, and dental offices are not included. However, a higher court reasoned that even if dental offices were not explicitly mentioned, the statute applies to establishments of any kind, and dental offices provide services to the public. Even if the dental office is on private premises, it is generally open to anyone who comes. It noted that dental offices did not fall into an explicit exemption and that private places are exempt only because of their exclusivity or selectivity.

The New York City Human Rights Law is generally applied more liberally than state law, so a dental office, like a medical office, is a public accommodation under the city law.

There is a gender discrimination violation of the New York City Human Rights Law when a plaintiff is treated worse than others are due to his or her gender with regard to the enjoyment of the public accommodation. Sexual harassment may be found to be one such violation. It can include a wide range of sexual behavior, including offensive gestures, touching, groping, rape, innuendoes, come-ons, and crude language. If a case is litigated to a jury, it may look at a harassment question by determining whether you were treated less well than other dental patients, due to your gender. They may look at, for example, whether a man who was similarly situated at a dental appointment would have been subjected to come-ons, innuendoes, or touching.

A claim for sexual harassment by a dentist is likely to be seen as utterly distinct from a medical malpractice case, which would require the retention of experts to show what the standard of care is for treatment. However, in addition to sexual harassment, it may also be appropriate to allege common law causes of action, such as civil battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Intentional infliction of emotional distress may be appropriate if you have been subjected to an action exceeding all bounds usually tolerated by a decent society. The harassment must be outrageous and extreme to count as intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Take Legal Action with the Assistance of Our New York City Lawyers

It can be stressful to seek dental care and face harassment. Patients trust their doctors and dentists to treat them fairly and seek out care expecting professionalism. It can be humiliating and degrading to face sexual harassment instead. At Phillips & Associates, our New York City attorneys help clients with many different kinds of harassment cases, including sexual harassment by dentists. If you believe that you have been a victim of mistreatment at a dentist office, contact us at (212) 248-7431 or through our online form to set up a free consultation. Our attorneys handle these claims in the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, and Manhattan, as well as in Westchester, Nassau, and Suffolk Counties and in New Jersey.

PHILLIPS & ASSOCIATES
45 Broadway, #620,
New York NY, 10006
Tel: 212-248-7431
Fax: 212-901-2107
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