Dentist to pay hygienists $72K over infection control issues

A Maine dentist has been ordered to pay $72,000 to two former dental hygienists who complained about the office's infection control procedures.

The U.S. Department of Labor filed suit in September against Tammy L. Cook, DMD, who owns Bath Family Dental, after two dental hygienists expressed concerns to Dr. Cook about what they perceived as lapses in infection control procedures, according to a statement by the department.

Attempts to resolve the issues with Dr. Cook were unsuccessful, and one of the hygienists filed a complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Dr. Cook fired one of the hygienists in 2011 and put the other on probation, leading to her resignation.

Now a federal court has ordered Dr. Cook to pay a total of $72,000 -- $38,000 and $34,000, respectively -- to the hygienists and take other actions to resolve alleged violations of the antiretaliation provisions of OSHA.

Dr. Cook also agrees not to pursue a number of collateral actions she had initiated, which had the potential to significantly impact the livelihood of one of the hygienists.

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