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February 2019

Preventing Harassment in the Workplace

You may have overheard or actually participated in a little banter between staff members and doctors that may be considered sexual in nature. While you may not have received any complaints about this conduct, is the practice prepared should a complaint be filed in the future?

According to Jodi Schafer, SPHR, owner of Human Resources Management Service and author of the MDA Journal’s Staff Matters column, the first thing a practice needs is a thorough policy that outlines what harassment is and that it requires reporting of any claim to management. The policy must also explain that when management is presented with a claim they will ensure it is thoroughly and completely investigated. Upon the conclusion of the investigation, any disciplinary action taken against any of the people involved must be documented. This includes claims that are made directly and those that are implied. Be aware, most claims are implied. A practice’s liability is not reduced if the employee refuses to make a direct claim.

Once a policy is established, Schafer explained, it must be communicated to all staff. All members of the practice, especially all of the dentists, should receive training that explains the different types of harassment. Training should also provide a review of the policy, identify the reporting system, and teach all members of leadership how to identify and address concerns that come to them. Attendance to this training must be mandatory and documented.

Sexual harassment was established by a landmark U.S. Supreme Court order from a lawsuit where an employee was expected to provide sexual favors to keep her job. This, the court said, created a hostile work environment and was a violation of Title 7 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The court ordered the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to write rules to address sexual harassment.

Since that ruling, harassment guidelines have been expanded to include all protected classifications, such as race, religion, gender, etc. In addition to high legal fees, a claim of harassment can be expensive in other ways. It can cause lost production, negatively impact teamwork, create personal problems, and may likely cause turnover. If the claim is made public, it will be a public relations nightmare.

“It is common for employees not to report complaints when they have been harassed,” Schafer said. “They may hint or make comments about behaviors. They may ask other employees what they experienced. If they do come to a manager, they may ask that their concern be kept confidential.”

Essentially, the staff member does not want to cause any problems, Shafer continued. Regardless of this, management must still conduct an investigation and discipline the perpetrator if necessary.

Remember, it is imperative that harassment be taken seriously, and that complaints are given more than lip service, no matter how subtly they are made.

MDA Job Board: Free Ads for Recruiting Dental Staff!

Attention job seekers and employee seekers! Beginning in March, the Michigan Dental Association Job Board — MI Dental Jobs — will be offering free ad placement for recruiting dental office staff, assistants, and hygienists. The free offer runs through May 2019.

If you haven’t checked out the Michigan Dental Association’s job board, you should! Find it at

The MDA’s interactive job board was created specifically as the go-to site for posting dentist, dental assistant, dental hygienist, and all dental staff positions.

MI Dental Jobs serves as Michigan’s go-to resource for dental employment. Job-seekers can create user profiles, receive job alerts when new ads are posted, receive job alerts based on specific criteria, search geographically or by specialty, or other customization. Employers posting jobs will have the ability to include complete job descriptions and other details.

2019 MDA Annual Session Offers Courses for Dental Office Staff

The Michigan Dental Association has lined up 21 courses designed especially for dental office staff at the 2019 Annual Session, May 1-4 at Cobo Center in Detroit.

Plus, 19 of those courses qualify for the MDA’s Certified Dental Business Professional program for dental office managers and business staff. The CDBP program allows you to earn the new CDBP credential by taking 30 credits of MDA courses offered at Annual Session, one-day seminars, or online. Enrollment in the program is FREE.

Check out the available courses!

Thursday, May 2

Friday, May 3

Saturday, May 4

In addition, the MDA Annual Session includes additional courses for the entire dental team, great social events, and more. Make plans to attend today!