Dentist awarded $600K in retaliation suit

Gavel Judge

A dentist who accused her former employer, Ohio State University, and its dental school dean of retaliating against her after assisting with a misconduct investigation involving a faculty member was awarded $600,000 on December 12 following a U.S. jury trial, according to court records.

Capping a six-day trial, jurors ruled in favor of Dr. Tiffany Kessling, a maxillofacial prosthodontist who worked at the university’s dental college from 2014 to 2019. The university was ordered to pay her $300,000, and the university’s former dental college dean, Dr. Patrick Lloyd, was ordered to pay her $300,000.

Kessling accused the university of fostering a climate spoiled by adverse actions and discrimination. She alleged she was paid less than male employees and faced discrimination during pregnancy, including being pressured to take a shorter maternity leave.

Things came to a head for Kessling when she became involved in the investigation of Dr. Meade Van Putten Jr., a maxillofacial prosthodontist and a senior faculty member at the university whom she named in her suit. Kessling claimed that she witnessed Van Putten harassing female employees and acting erratically and even violently.

Furthermore, Kessling claimed that her participation in the investigation led the university and Lloyd to retaliate against her. Within weeks of Lloyd learning about her assistance with the investigation, she alleged that he threatened to withdraw her academic appointment and restricted her clinical privileges to perform tooth extractions. Within months, Kessling claimed that Lloyd reassigned her to duties that were less desirable, according to court documents.

This isn’t the first time that Lloyd’s behavior has been criticized. In 2011, faculty at the University of Minnesota School Dentistry were not unhappy when Lloyd left his position as dean of the school to become the dental dean at Ohio State University. Faculty called his leadership style “oppressive” and said he had an “autocratic attitude.”

In 2022, Lloyd became the dean of Stonybrook University School of Dental Medicine. 

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