Human Resources

Human Resources for Dental Practices: Can dentist let staff go for discussing compensation?

July 7, 2014
Dentist has no right to fire employees, but he can suggest office policies. Another dentist questions I-9 forms.

QUESTION: We recently witnessed our employees comparing their paychecks and discussing how much they are compensated. Per office policy, we do not allow this because we believe it will create problems amongst the staff, and that employees will begin demanding raises. Can we discipline and/or fire staff for clearly violating our policy?

ANSWER: Your policy is not compliant and cannot be enforced. I recommend you change your office policy as soon as possible. Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) gives employees the right to engage in concerted activities, including the right to discuss the terms and conditions of their employment with one another. The NLRA applies to both union and non-union businesses. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has made it clear that employers are prohibited from creating policies, written or unwritten, that restrict employees’ right to discuss their pay and benefits. While you cannot have a policy in place like this, you can certainly promote confidentiality of sensitive business information.

QUESTION: What is the requirement for retaining I-9 forms?

ANSWER: I-9 forms must be kept three years from the employee’s date of hire, or one year from the employees’ date of termination, whichever is later. For example, an employee is hired on January 19, 2014 and is terminated on November 5, 2015. You must keep the I-9 form until January 19, 2017 because that is three years after his date of hire, which is longer than one year after his termination.

DOL Timesheet app, cell phone lockdown
To pay or not to pay interns, FMLA updates
Personal vehicle use for company business; the I-9 form

Human Resources Tips for Dental Practices is provided by Tim Twigg and Rebecca Crane of Bent Ericksen & Associates. Tim Twigg is president and Rebecca Crane is a human resource compliance consultant with Bent Ericksen & Associates. For 30 years, the company has been a leading authority in human resource and personnel issues, helping dentists deal successfully with the ever-changing and complex labor laws. To receive a complimentary copy of the company’s quarterly newsletter or to learn more about its services, call (800) 679-2760 or visit