Justice Department Settles with North Carolina Dental Offices Over HIV Discrimination

Content From: Department of Justice Office of Public AffairsPublished: June 21, 20213 min read


Cross-posted from the Department of Justice Office of Public Affairs

Seal of the U.S. Department of Justice

The Justice Department announced [on Thursday, June 17, 2021] that it has reached a settlement to resolve a claim that Night and Day Dental Inc. discriminated against a woman with HIV in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). 

Night and Day Dental operates nine dental offices throughout North Carolina. This settlement is part of the department’s Barrier-Free Health Care Initiative (initiative), a partnership of the Civil Rights Division and U.S. Attorney’s offices across the nation to ensure that people with disabilities, including those who are deaf or hard of hearing, who have HIV and who have mobility disabilities, have equal access to medical services.

Title III of the ADA prohibits dentists and other health care providers from discriminating against people with disabilities, including HIV. Following an investigation, the department found that Night and Day Dental discriminated against a woman with HIV when it refused to accept her as a new patient because of her HIV status. The patient was seeking routine dental care, including a cleaning and check-up. In addition, Night and Day Dental has a policy of requiring certain bloodwork results from patients with HIV before deciding whether to provide dental care, when in fact requiring such results is not medically necessary or recommended. 

“Turning away patients with HIV or requiring them to provide information that is not medically recommended, creates unfair barriers to health care for people with HIV,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The ADA requires health care providers to treat patients based on current medical knowledge about their particular health conditions, and not based on stereotypes or misconceptions about a disability. The Justice Department is committed to ensuring that people with HIV do not face discrimination in health care settings or other areas of life.”

Under the settlement, Night and Day Dental must pay $30,000 to the victim of the discrimination. In addition, Night and Day Dental must train its staff on the ADA, develop and use a non-discrimination policy, and report and explain to the department every time it either refuses to treat a person with HIV or stops providing treatment after learning of a patient’s HIV.

This matter was handled by the Disability Rights Section of the department’s Civil Rights Division. The Justice Department plays a central role in advancing the nation’s goal of equal opportunity, full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency for people with disabilities. For more information on the Barrier Free Health Care Initiative visit www.ada.gov/usao-agreements.htm. For more information about this agreement or the ADA, please visit www.ada.gov or call the department’s toll-free ADA Information Line at 800-514-0301 (TDD 800-514-0383). For more information on the Civil Rights Division, please visit www.justice.gov/crt. Members of the public may report possible civil rights violations at https://civilrights.justice.gov/report.