Gender discrimination suit against Heartland Dental voluntarily dismissed

By Heather Isringhausen Gvillo | Mar 2, 2015

A woman claiming Heartland Dental discriminated against her because she was pregnant has voluntarily dismissed the lawsuit.

Plaintiff Jennifer Crain, formerly known as Jennifer Krueger, filed a notice of voluntary dismissal on Oct. 1 through attorney D. Jeffrey Ezra of Ezra & Associates in Collinsville.

On Oct. 8, Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder dismissed the case without prejudice.

According to Crain’s Sept. 2 complaint, she worked for defendant Heartland Dental Care for seven years. She claims she worked as a practice administrator for at least four dental offices that were profitable, earning quarterly bonuses between $800 and $2,000.

Defendant Jessica Doherty was named regional administrator and became Crain’s supervisor, the suit states. In January 2013, Crain says she told Doherty she was pregnant when she was told that her doctor appointments related to the pregnancy “could not in any way ‘interfere’ with her work schedule.”

Crain claimed that shortly after informing Heartland about her pregnancy, high-profit offices where she was practice administrator were taken from her and given to Doherty’s personal friend, Heather Helstley. Crain alleges the move dramatically reduced her opportunity for bonus pay. She also claims Doherty told her she was holding her to a “higher standard” than the other practice administrators.

In February 2013, Crain says she expressed concern to Doherty about working around nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, because of studies reporting a potential link between nitrous oxide and miscarriages in female dental assistants. Doherty allegedly refused to make any adjustments and told Crain “she would be fine.” Crain alleges she was exposed to nitrous oxide directly on multiple occasions and asked her supervisor to be removed from those situations, but Doherty refused the requests, the suit states.

In April 2013, Crain miscarried and was out of work for one week. In June 2013, Crain learned she was pregnant again and told Doherty. On July 17, Crain says she was called to work in an office where nitrous oxide was being used and expressed concerns. Doherty allegedly told Crain she would be fine, but Crain says she worked out of her car to avoid potential risks, according to the complaint.

Crain claimed Doherty promoted a personal friend to the level of practice administrator in July, and in August 2013 removed offices from Crain’s supervision, again limiting her opportunity for bonus pay.

Then on Aug. 14, 2013, Crain alleges she was fired “for purportedly not supporting two dentists, deviating from her work schedule” and a prior alleged disagreement with a dentist. She claimed in her suit the allegations were false and pretextual.

Dental Professionals of Illinois was also named a defendant in the suit.

The case was dismissed before defendants answered the allegations.

Madison County Circuit Court case number 14-L-1206

More News

The Record Network