Dentist Race Discrimination: Closing The Gap

Dentist Race Discrimination: Closing The Gap

Dentist Race Discrimination: Closing The Gap

Underrepresented minorities within dentistry rise from a history of adversity. Despite over a hundred years passing since the first black man entered Harvard Medical School to become a dentist, very few minority dentists exist in the overall population of dentists. This lack of minorities within the industry sometimes hurts the dental care of minorities. Dentist race discrimination can hinder minorities from progressing through dental school and succeeding in their career paths.

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The Lack of Minority Dentists in Dentistry

With so few minority dentists within the industry, concern grows that minority patients do not receive the best care that they can because they are not equally represented. Meanwhile, potential students to become dentists often don’t have access to dental and oral health care.

When researchers consider the racial population of dentists, the numbers reveal a huge disparity between white dentists and minority dentists. In fact, one study revealed that to make dentistry reflect the U.S. population that almost 20,000 black dentists, 31,000 Hispanic dentists, and 3,000 American Indian or Alaska Native dentists would be needed to join dentistry (Mertz, et al., 2017). Naturally, dentists require years of training so fixing the underrepresented minority dentist problem can’t happen immediately.

Many point to the policy problem within the United States for dealing with underrepresented minorities. Programs and funds partner to convince minorities throughout their education process into fields where few are present. But, at the end of the day, when workforce shortages are still present, the United States routinely returns to shipping in foreign-born professionals. This undermines the ongoing programs aimed at minorities.

The History of Racial Discrimination in Dentistry

In 2010, the American Dental Association issued an apology for not eradicating racial discrimination earlier from their membership practices. The first African-American president of the organization, Dr. Raymond Gist, noted that part of moving forward also meant looking back. Although the American Dental Association doesn’t know how many people were denied membership due to discrimination, the membership historically reflected the segregation that existed during the Civil Rights Era.

Many other organizations are publicly apologizing to underrepresented minorities as information uncovers the extent of discriminatory practices in past decades. Just because more obvious discrimination is being brought to the light, medical organizations need to be on the lookout for subtle discrimination.  It’s clear that the United States still struggles with unconscious bias.

It’s Not Always About Discrimination

Sometimes, it’s not about discrimination. Sometimes it’s about your reputation as a dentist or about the phrasing in legal documents. Rising to the highest acclaim in any industry requires perseverance and focus. When you are disrespected or discredited by a coworker or subordinate, that can undermine your authority within the industry. Meanwhile, signing a legal document is binding and should be reviewed by a lawyer so you don’t sign away a crucial right.

An executive employment lawyer can help protect your reputation and your employment rights when signing a contract.

File A Lawsuit For Race Discrimination In Dentistry

When racial discrimination occurs in the workplace, filing a lawsuit can be the best solution for recovering damages and raising awareness of continued race discrimination. Some employers or organizations prefer to ignore the problem, but a discrimination lawyer demands attention and action. Therefore, contact a lawyer if you have experienced racial discrimination as a underrepresented minority dentist.

Racial Discrimination Lawsuit Against Hawaii’s State Board of Dental Examiners

Dr. Pekarsky, a Caucasian dentist and professor, led a class-action lawsuit, in 1978, against Hawaii’s State Board of Dental Examiners because he failed a licensing test twice. He suspected that his race motivated his double failure. In 1979, the Hawaii government changed the licensing exam’s grading system, making applicants’ anonymous. And then, in 1980, Dr. Pekarsky’s suit was settled outside of court.

Dentist Racial Discrimination Lawsuit Against UNLV Dental School

Francis Jones, an assistant professor, claims that he suffered discrimination, wrongful discipline, and lack of pay raises due to his race. He even suspected that he lost the title of continuing education director due to this racial discrimination. However, this case was dismissed since Francis Jones had not reported the discriminatory actions as they happened.

EEOC Files A Lawsuit Against Scion Dental For Race Discrimination

Nartisha Leija tried to apply for a permanent position with Scion Dental, but her application was denied because she didn’t have a college degree. But then, Scion Dental hired Caucasian applicants without college degrees for the same positions. While still temporarily working for the company, Nartisha watched as they continued to hire non-Black individuals for the open positions before ending her employment with them. (EEOC v. Scion Dental, Inc., 2016)

Should you face racial discrimination in the dentistry, document the events and consider reporting them to the Human Resources department or your boss. Be sure to report via email as well so that a time stamp is available and a record exists. If the racial discrimination becomes so bad that you decide to file a lawsuit, the last thing you want is to  have your case dismissed for not reporting the discriminatory action.

If you are a minority dentist and have experienced employment discrimination or sexual harassment, contact an employment attorney now to hear your legal options.

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