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Clinics Owned by Alameel, Democrats' U.S. Senate Hope, Battled 5-Year Discrimination Suit

Clinics Owned by Alameel, Democrats' U.S. Senate Hope, Battled 5-Year Discrimination Suit

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Published by: Editor on May 10, 2014
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05/10/2014

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Clinics owned by Alameel, Democrats' U.S. Senate hope, battled 5-year discrimination suit
 
HOEP
In this undated photo provided by his campaign is David Alameel, a U.S. Senate candidate in Texas' Democratic primary on March 4. Alameel has been endorsed by Democratic candidates for governor and lieutenant governor but his past donations to many of the state's top Republican leaders has sparked an intraparty battle with another Democratic U.S. Senate hopeful, El Paso personal injury attorney Maxey Scherr. (AP Photo/Alameel for Senate)
 
May 8, 2014 | Updated: May 8, 2014 8:48pm
A chain of dental clinics owned by wealthy Dallas businessman David Alameel, the Democrats' top choice in the U.S. Senate race, entered into a federal court agreement in 2008 to settle claims  brought by four women who said they lost their jobs after complaining about a sexually hostile work environment. Alameel strenuously denied any wrongdoing this week, as he did throughout a trial in Dallas County District Court and a subsequent federal suit brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. A Dallas jury found in favor of Alameel's Jefferson Dental Clinics after an emotional seven-day civil trial in November 2004. The EEOC complaint was settled four years later through a consent decree that involved no admission of wrongdoing but required Alameel's clinics to publish a non-harassment policy and conduct training for all his employees and managers. "This case involved charges that were proven to be false, untrue and without merit in a court of law against an employee of the Jefferson Dental Clinics over a decade ago," Alameel's campaign told the Houston Chronicle in a written statement. "Although Dr. David Alameel was the owner of (the clinics) at that time, he was not named as part of the alleged incidents." Court records show that the four women accused Alameel of retaining the supervisor who allegedly harassed them, and getting rid of them instead.
Democrats' hope 
 The case resurfaced among GOP operatives this week in advance of the May 27 Democratic  primary runoff, where Alameel faces Houston political activist Kesha Rogers, a "Lyndon LaRouche Democrat" who wants to impeach President Barack Obama. Alameel, who was endorsed in January by gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis, has emerged as the top choice of Democratic leaders hoping to rebuild the party in Texas by mobilizing women and minorities. If he wins, Alameel would face two-term Republican incumbent Sen. John Cornyn in November. Cornyn's campaign declined to comment on the case.
The accusations 
 
 
The May 2008 federal consent decree ended a five-year legal battle that started when four women claimed they were sexually harassed by their supervisor, Kadri Cumur, then chief financial officer of Jefferson Dental Clinics, which at the time included 11 dental practices in the Dallas area. The women's 2003 lawsuit accused Cumur of repeatedly engaging in inappropriate personal remarks and offensive touching at the company headquarters where they worked. In one instance, he allegedly reached inside one woman's blouse and touched her bra. Another woman testified that he unbuttoned her blouse. When one of the women turned down his invitation to dinner, he allegedly called her a "whore."
Alameel sold clinics 
 Cumur could not be reached for comment. Alameel sold the Jefferson Dental Clinics in 2009 and no longer has any association with Cumur, according to the campaign. The campaign also said that when Alameel owned the clinics, 95 percent of the managers were women. The four women who sued claimed that when they took their complaints to Alameel, he acknowledged that his wife and son had previously expressed doubts about Cumur's behavior. But after initially firing Cumur, the women alleged, Alameel immediately changed his mind and rehired him. A few days later, according to the women, the clinic instituted new workplace rules prohibiting female employees from wearing sleeveless shirts and dresses. Three of the women, identified in court records as Heather Sooter, Carol Cantu and Linda Householder, were reportedly fired. A fourth, Esmeralda Jimenez, said she quit. Asked about the specifics of the women's stories, a spokesman for Alameel wrote in an email "there is no point re-examining all the details of a decade old lawsuit, except to reiterate that the allegations were adjudicated in court and found to be without merit."
Troubles in cour
 All four women claimed Alameel's actions were retaliation for their complaints about Cumur. They filed complaints in state court and with the EEOC.

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