Workers sue Illinois dental practice over hidden cameras found in bathroom
An Illinois dental practice has been sued by 11 employees after an hygienist allegedly hid two cameras in the work bathroom, new court papers show.
One camera was discovered Oct. 22 in a unisex employees’ bathroom of the national dental chain Aspen Dental in Crestwood, and it was turned over to the police department, according to the lawsuits filed in Cook County Circuit Court on Thursday.
That same day, dental hygienist Armani Alexander, 25, “admitted to placing the camera” in the bathroom and was arrested, the court papers say.
The office assured the workers that they swept the premises and didn’t find any more cameras.
Yet Oct. 26, a second camera was discovered in the same bathroom, the court documents allege.
Lawyers for the workers — who include dentists, dental hygienists, dental assistants and a marketer — say the cameras were first placed in the bathroom sometime in September.
Aspen admitted that a background check for Alexander — who had only been with the company for two months — “was flagged for criminal activity,” the court papers say.
Dentist Trent Jones, who along with dental assistant Alyssa Raine quit over the cameras, said the corporate office told him they knew Alexander had a criminal record.
“In essence, Aspen Dental rolled out the proverbial red carpet for this documented offender so that he could carry out his perverse actions against a predominantly female staff,” Jones said in a prepared statement.
Raine said she was horrified to discover the violation of her privacy.
“I am a very private person, and when I learned on Oct. 22 that a camera was found in the employee’s bathroom, I was shocked,” Raine said in a statement. “I was sick to my stomach. Many of us at the clinic were crying.
“I still cry about the way my privacy was taken from me,” Raine’s statement continued.
Raine said that when the second camera was discovered despite Aspen’s assurances that there were no others, “I knew this was the absolute worst place to work.
“I still am unable to use any public bathroom,” Raine said.
“These individuals relied on Aspen Dental to provide a safe and healthy working environment which they failed to do with their negligent hiring of a dental hygienist with a criminal background,”
Plaintiff lawyer Joseph Rourke said in a statement, “Aspen Dental, and its owners and managers, could have avoided this perverse invasion of privacy that resulted in unthinkable mental and emotional distress if they had followed up on the background check they conducted before deciding to hire this despicable individual.”
The workers — who are each suing for at least $50,000 — have brought claims of negligent hiring and supervision against the practice.
Alexander did not immediately return a request for comment.
A woman who answered at Aspen Dental corporate declined to take a message.