A Roseburg dental assistant is seeking nearly $3 million from the dental office she worked for, claiming she was forced to work long hours without breaks, which exacerbated her diabetes and ultimately caused her emotional distress.
Anjolie Mecham filed her complaint last month in Circuit Court. The defendants include Aspen Dental Management, Inc., and two individuals: Aspen regional manager Jennifer Hensley and dentist George McKee, who was the owner and lead dentist at the Aspen Dental office at 1168 NW Garden Valley Blvd., according to the complaint.
Mecham was hired by Aspen in February 2014 to work as a dental assistant in the Roseburg office. Aspen Dental Management is a foreign business corporation with its principal place of business in East Syracuse, New York. Two Thirty Dental, doing business as Aspen Dental III, is a domestic limited liability corporation whose principal place of business is at the Garden Valley Boulevard location in Roseburg.
At all times, Mecham performed her job satisfactorily, the complaint said. Aspen overscheduled patients on a daily basis, and because of that employees, including Mecham, were rarely permitted to take breaks. Mecham complained to management about the overscheduling, saying it interfered with patient care and safety, to no avail.
In November 2017, Mecham was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, according to the complaint. After the diagnosis, Mecham told her managers that she would need to take breaks to care for herself. Despite that, Mecham said she continued to be denied breaks and because of that she experienced episodes where her blood sugar dropped to dangerously low levels. Mecham reportedly experienced hypoglycemic episodes that included symptoms such as seeing spots, stuttering, rapid pulse, high body temperatures, tremors, anxiety and confusion.
Mecham repeatedly asked her managers for accommodations, specifically short breaks throughout the day to check and manage her blood sugar levels, but she was denied, according to the complaint.
In March 2018, the complaint said Mecham’s doctor sent a note to the managers at Aspen, telling them that Mecham required at least three breaks a day, of 10 minutes each, to care for her medical condition. A few days later Mecham was given a 30 day written warning for insubordination for recent actions. Managers told Mecham she was passive aggressive and that her job was being posted and the office was looking to replace her, according to the complaint.
In May 2018, Mecham was issued a 30 day final warning for insubordination. The next day, June 1, Mecham said she developed migraine headaches and called in sick. On June 12, Mecham sent an email to nine Aspen managers, outlining the failure of the Roseburg office management to provide breaks to employees, their refusal to provide her reasonable accommodations and the retaliation she said she experienced for complaining about the abuses.
Mecham was terminated that day.
The next day, Mecham filed a complaint with the Civil Rights Division of the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, alleging various claims involving acts of discrimination and retaliation. In July of this year BOLI determined that Mecham had a right to sue.
She did so, in Circuit Court, on Oct. 15 of this year. The complaint lists nearly a dozen purported violations of Oregon statutes, including disability discrimination, retaliation for reporting disability discrimination, whistleblower retaliation and wrongful termination.
Mecham is seeking $2.8 million in damages. The complaint was filed on her behalf by Dolan Law Group PC in Portland.
None of the defendants in the complaint have notified the court of who is legally representing them, according to Circuit Court records. George McKee, the former owner of the Aspen office in Roseburg who now works at Aspen Dental in Medford, did not return a call seeking comment. A call to Aspen Dental corporate headquarters in East Syracuse, New York, was also not returned.