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Human Resources Questions for Dentists: Should boss issue warning about cameras in workplace?

Aug. 7, 2017
Handling a small business and issues that come up with staff members can be daunting for some dentists. After all, they went to dental school, not business school. That's why the experts from Bent Erickson & Associates are here to help.  

Handling a small business and issues that come along with overseeing a staff can be daunting for some dentists. After all, they went to dental school, not business school. That's why the experts from Bent Erickson & Associates are here to help. Because no dentist wants to get into trouble for mishandling staff issues.

This article originally appeared in the Principles of Practice Management e-newsletter. Subscribe to this informative twice monthly practice management ENL here.

QUESTION:I WOULD LIKE TO INSTALL CAMERAS for video monitoring in the office. Do I need to inform visitors and employees about them?

ANSWER: Video monitoring in the workplace is generally not prohibited by any federal law. However, if the cameras can make audio recordings, the federal Wiretap Act and the Stored Communications Act come into play. That being said, video recordings, even without audio, can still expose you to invasion of privacy claims. That could occur if the cameras are installed in places where employees can reasonably expect privacy, such as locker rooms or restrooms. Any installation of cameras should be in a public space.

It is a good idea to have a policy that informs employees that there is video monitoring in the workplace. The policy should also restrict access to the videos to only those who have authority. We recommend this policy be signed as a separate document rather than just lumped in with all the other policies. This is just to make sure that it is absolutely understood that this occurs.

Finally, we recommend that you check your state law about this. States can impose more restrictions and requirements.

QUESTION: I recently had an interviewee drop a bunch of details about being pregnant during an interview. How should I handle this? I became concerned that this person was setting me up for a claim. Does that happen, or am I just being paranoid?

ANSWER: YOU ARE RIGHT TO BE PARANOID. Not only do devious applicants do this, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and civil rights groups do employ “testers,” people employed for the purpose of catching employers who are not being compliant. Testers from the civil rights groups are often looking to gather information about an employer’s hiring practices. In other words, their goal is to determine whether the employer is treating a protected class unfavorably.

Whether this applicant is attempting to set you up, is a tester, or is just being innocently friendly, you might never know. It’s important that you handle this appropriately, regardless of the underlying motivation by the applicant. Here are some tips:

• Do not write down on any document that this applicant is pregnant.
• During the interview, be sure to redirect the applicant back to job-related topics.
• Be sure your policies establish you as an employer who does not discriminate against others for any reason.
• Follow standard recruiting procedures, i.e., treat this applicant the same as everyone else in terms of the next steps.
• Disregard the pregnancy information when making the hiring decision.
• If this individual is not hired, be sure documentation is in good order that shows there was a legitimate and nondiscriminatory reason for not hiring this individual—in other words, the person hired was much more qualified.

QUESTION: If an employee has health insurance, can that be used to cover the cost of the Hep B vaccination?

ANSWER: Since the law requires the employer to be responsible for the cost of the Hep B vaccination, I don't recommend using an employee's health insurance. That might be seen as trying to get around the law by putting the burden of the cost onto the insurance carrier, or the employee, if there is an out-of-pocket expense due to coverage.

Doctor forms needed for pregnant employee?
To pay or not to pay
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Human Resources Questions for Dentists is provided by Rebecca Boartfield and Tim Twigg of Bent Ericksen & Associates. Tim Twigg is president and Rebecca Boartfield is a human resources 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

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