US Department of Labor sues Texas practice, owners

The U.S. Department of Labor has filed a lawsuit against two Texas dental practice owners on behalf of two employees who say they were retaliated against for inquiring about COVID-19 safety precautions.

According to a July 15 news release, Roger Bohannan and David Bohannan, owners of Roger H. Bohannan DDS Inc., furloughed employees of Bohannan Dentistry in North Richland Hills, Texas, in March and April 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. After being contacted to return to work, a dental assistant and dental hygienist asked what safety measures would be put in place once the office reopened. The hygienist was not reinstated after citing guidance from the CDC and Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and the dental assistant's reinstatement was rescinded after they asked what safety measures were implemented, according to the lawsuit. All other employees were reinstated once the furlough ended.

An OSHA investigation found that the practice discriminated against the employees for making a good faith health and safety complaint, a protected measure under the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Fort Worth Division, asks the practice to pay the employees for lost wages and benefits, among other compensatory damages. It also asks the practice to post a notice to employees that it will not discriminate against employees for exercising their rights under the OSHA Act.

Becker's contacted Bohannan Dentistry for comment and will update this story as more information becomes available.

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