Content Dam Diq Online Articles 2017 06 Conflict 1

Thursday Troubleshooter: Should RDH file complaint against dentist?

June 22, 2017
This dental hygienist is pretty certain the dentist she works for is not paying her fairly. She needs to read up on the Fair Labor Standards Act and then ask herself, should she file a complaint?

Do you have a tough issue in your dental office that you would like addressed? Each week the experts on Team Troubleshooter will tackle those issues and provide you with answers. Send questions to [email protected].

QUESTION: I’m a dental hygienist in Texas who’s been practicing about five years, four years at the office where I am now. I get paid by production only and I don't get paid for anything I do besides dental hygiene. But recently my boss came to me with new options that I know will not benefit me. Is it legal to make me clock in like every employee, do all duties required, plus do recall when I have time off and not get compensated for it? The dentist said I could choose whether to keep my W2 form. This means I follow all the rules that every employee has to, such as doing recall and assisting in other aspects of the front desk. If I don't agree she would rather give me a 1099 form, which means I pay my own taxes at the end of the year. Also, she said that I cannot get production credit for x-rays anymore when I take them because I’m not a doctor who can diagnose them. Can you please give me some information about this? Thank you.

It is violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to require employees to work with no expectation of pay. If you are being paid on straight commission, there is no need to clock in as you are not being paid by the hour. It sounds as if the doctor thinks by having you clock in she can avoid the perception that you are being asked to work for no pay.

Here is a link to the FLSA website. You should familiarize yourself with this law at

If she insists on treating you as an independent contractor by giving you a 1099 instead of a W-2 (as she should), you can file a complaint against her with the IRS. The feds have their radar on high alert for employers who willingly misclassify employees to avoid paying the proper taxes on them. Visit

Inform the doctor that taking x-rays, which is work, is quite different from diagnosing them. That’s her job. You should receive pay for taking for x-rays. Your doctor is stepping over dollars to pick up dimes.

How to have the bad breath conversation with a coworker
RDH very concerned about dentist's dismissal of oral lesion
Confusion over new D4346 dental code

Do YOU have a tough issue in your dental office that you would like addressed?

Send your questions to [email protected] for the experts to answer. Responses will come from various dental consultants, as well as other experts in the areas of human resources, coding, front office management, and more. These folks will assist dental professionals with their various issues on DentistryIQ because they're very familiar with the tough challenges day-to-day practice can bring.

All inquiries will be answered anonymously each Thursday here on DIQ.

For the most current practice management headlines, click here.

For the most current dental headlines, click here.

About the Author

Team Troubleshooter

This weekly column on DentistryIQ features questions from everyday people who work in dental practices, who have issues they would like addressed by the experts. Those who regularly take the time to answer questions include Rebecca Boartfield, Patti DiGangi, Dr. Chris Salierno, Laura Hatch, Karen Daw, Jill Townsend, Lisa Marie Spradley, Shelley Renee, Judy Kay Mausolf, Robin Morrison, Paul Edwards ... and the list is growing.

Send your question or issue for an expert to address to [email protected].. You'll be glad you did.