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Human Rights Tribunal Sides with Dentist

Dental lawyers like us tend to ONLY deal with dentists, other lawyers, bankers, accountants and financial advisors. It’s actually quite nice to deal with such professionals. Honestly. I was a lawyer for the general public early on in my career, and I’m not interested in going back to that. I like dealing with highly educated clients – like dentists. They’ve been in school for as long as I have been; we understand each other.

This is where I don’t envy dentists: they have to deal with the general public. And once in a while, they’re going to get a disgruntled patient who thinks they’re being victimized and cry wolf FOR FREE to the government.

And that’s exactly what happened in the recent case of KM v. Crescent Dental Health Clinic, 2022 HRTO 63 (CanLII). In that case, a mother took a dentist to task and claimed DISCRIMINATION … UUUGGGGHHHH… only to lose (the mother, that is).

Think of this poor dentist at Crescent Dental… they did absolutely nothing wrong. They paid lawyers to defend themselves. They waited YEARS for closure (the allegations date back to January 2018 and the decision just came out in March 2022!). The sleepless nights. How jaded they’ve probably since become. Always defending themselves against baseless claims. The smear against their reputation and dignity. Horrible…

And think of the mother. She didn’t have to pay $0.01 to make a baseless claim. She didn’t need a lawyer. She just had to make an allegation. And the government system takes over on her behalf, wastes countless thousands of dollars and hours of professionals’ time… and all for what: for the dentist to win and have the case dismissed?!? But the damage has already been done to this poor dentist.

But I disgress…

Here are the facts

Jan 6, 2018

A mother and her minor daughter attend the dental practice. The daughter had a dental emergency (no facts about the emergency were included in the case). The treating dentist ran out of time to see her minor daughter but offered for them to come back 2 days later – Jan 8, 2018.   The practice allegedly had a power outage. The mother and daughter go the parking lot and watch (YES WATCH) the dentist work until the wee hours of the evening.

Jan 8, 2018

The mother and daughter DO NOT attend the practice for their scheduled visit.

Instead, the mother alleges that the dentist refused treatment to the daughter because of her origin (south Asian), age and disability (which the mother said was because of her daughter being “a minor”?!).   The mother admitted seeing “many Muslim people and adults being treated”.

THANKFULLY, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario dismissed the case on the basis of having no reasonable prospect of success. Importantly, it found that the dentist’s decision to defer the treatment for 2 days was a clinical decision made by the physician and CANNOT form the basis for an application for discrimination. Even if that decision is wrong, Human Rights Tribunals in Canada have taken the view that such decisions from physicians cannot form the basis of an application for discrimination based on disability.

These types of cases upset me deeply…. nonsense… rubbish… if only the dentist could recoup their legal fees and the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal could recoup its own costs for investigating/hearing the matter from the mother. Wouldn’t that be something?   That’ll make the general public think twice before wanting to drag an innocent dentist through the mud.