Federal Agency Claims Affordable Care Dentist Abused Female Assistants
BOSTON – A national denture provider, Affordable Care, Inc., violated federal law when its affiliated dentist, Nelson Wood, racially and sexually harassed two female employees, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced today.
The EEOC’s lawsuit, Civil Action No. 1:09-CV-10399-GAO, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts yesterday, alleges that Affordable Care and Nelson Wood, operating as Nelson Wood, DMD, PC, created a sexually and racially hostile work environment for Ariede Mills, who is African American, and Laura Carl, who is white, at its office in West Springfield. The lawsuit alleges that, among other things, Wood referred to women as “whining bitches,” propositioned Mills for sex, spanked Carl repeatedly on the buttocks, made insulting remarks about blacks, and claimed that he had a relative who was a member of the Ku Klux Klan and could “take care of” anything he wanted.
Both Mills and Carl complained repeatedly about Wood to Affordable Care, which is headquartered in North Carolina, but the company failed to stop the harassment. The lawsuit also alleges that Mills was fired in retaliation for her complaints, and that Carl was forced to quit because of Wood’s offensive conduct.
Racial and sexual harassment, as well as retaliation, violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit after exhausting its conciliation efforts to reach a voluntary settlement. The agency seeks monetary and injunctive relief on behalf of the two women, including back wages, compensatory damages, a change in employment policy to eliminate future harassment, training for managers and other employees, and punitive damages.
"The EEOC continues to receive far too many cases which demonstrate that employers neglect their legal obligation to provide employees with a work environment free of unlawful harassment,” said Spencer H. Lewis, Jr., the EEOC’s New York district director. He added, “The EEOC will actively continue to remind employers of their legal obligations.”
Elizabeth Grossman, the EEOC’s New York regional attorney, added, “All entities who function as employers, including affiliated entities with control over operations of others, cannot escape liability for their discriminatory actions.”
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the Commission is available on the agency's web site at www.eeoc.gov.
This page was last modified on March 17, 2009.
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