The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) has reached a settlement to resolve a claim that Night and Day Dental Inc., which operates nine dental offices in North Carolina, discriminated against a woman with HIV in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Following an investigation, the DOJ found that Night and Day Dental discriminated against a woman with HIV when it refused to accept her as a new patient because of her HIV status. The patient was seeking routine dental care including a cleaning and checkup.
Also, Night and Day Dental has a policy of requiring certain bloodwork results from patients with HIV before deciding whether to provide dental care, when in fact requiring such results is not medically necessary or recommended, the DOJ said.
“Turning away patients with HIV or requiring them to provide information that is not medically recommended creates unfair barriers to healthcare for people with HIV,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke for the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division.
“The ADA requires healthcare providers to treat patients based on current medical knowledge about their particular health conditions and not based on stereotypes of misconceptions about a disability,” Clarke said.
“The Justice Department is committed to ensuring that people with HIV do not face discrimination in healthcare settings or other areas of life,” Clarke said.
Night and Day Dental will pay $30,000 to the victim of the discrimination. It also must train its staff about the ADA, develop and use a non-discrimination policy, and explain to the DOJ every time it either refuses to treat a person with HIV or stops providing treatment after learning of a patient’s HIV.
The settlement is part of the DOJ’s Barrier-Free Health Care Initiative, which is a partnership between the Civil Rights Division and US Attorneys’ offices to ensure that people with disabilities, including those who are deaf or hard of hearing, who have HIV, and who have mobility disabilities, have equal access to medical services.
Title III of the ADA prohibits dentists and other healthcare providers from discriminating against people with disabilities, including HIV. The matter was handled by the Disability Rights Section of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division.