On Thursday, a settlement was reached between the Department of Justice and North Carolina Night and Day Dental Inc. over an accusation of discrimination against a woman with HIV, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
In March 2019, the complainant arrived for her dentist appointment at the defendants office, the DOJ press release said. Upon arrival at the office, the defendant requested that they be given blood work before moving forward with the visit. After Night and Day Dental reviewed the faxed results, and had the complainant wait for an extended period, the complainant was told she could not be seen for her scheduled appointment.
The defendant asserted that they request blood work from patients with HIV in order to review the absolute neutrophil count, which is an estimate of the body’s ability to fight infections, especially bacterial infections. This count is used by the defendant to assess whether to provide an antibiotic prophylaxis prior to dental treatment. However, there are just a few health conditions for which antibiotic prophylaxis prior to dental treatment is recommended, and HIV is not one of them.
After being forced to wait for an extended period of time, the plaintiff was told she could not be seen for her scheduled appointment. The court believes that she was turned away due to her HIV, which they believe to be discriminatory to the patient and other patients who would seek treatment at this practice.
Under the rules of the settlement, Night and Day Dental agrees to not discriminate or on the basis of disability, including HIV. They also agree not to impose or apply eligibility criteria that screen out, or tend to screen out, an individual with a disability or a class of individuals with disabilities. They must submit a non-discrimination policy to the United States for its review and approval, remove any existing policies that would be considered discriminatory, and provide training for all it’s employees concerning discriminatory practices every year. They must also send reports to the United States on the progress of these new policies. Lastly, Night and Day Dental must pay the complainant $30,000 to compensate for any damages suffered under their discriminatory practices.
As per the settlement agreement, Dykema Gossett PLLC is counsel for Night and Day Dental.