Disciplinary actions against your occupational or professional license can be devastating. After all, you have spent countless hours studying to earn the credentials necessary for your license, only to suffer what may be a significant setback to your career. In many occupations, complaints and enforcement actions occur at the Texas Department of Licensing & Regulation (TDLR).
Enlisting the help of a speech-language defense lawyer can help you fight back against the complaint and work to keep the license you have earned. With legal assistance, you may also be able to negotiate the best possible resolution of the matter before the TDLR and safeguard your career.
Grounds for Disciplinary Proceedings Against Speech-Language Pathologists
16 Tex. Admin. Code §111.155 outlines the standards of ethical practice that speech-language pathologists must follow. If licensees violate these rules, they can be subject to disciplinary action by TDLR. Speech-language pathologists also are subject to separate specific rules concerning advertising, recordkeeping and billing, and supervising other persons, such as assistants and interns. Likewise, they must comply with specific standards for telehealth and meet continuing education requirements.
Furthermore, Tex. Occ. Code §401.451 provides that TDLR may suspend or revoke a speech-language pathologist’s license or place the individual on probation if the individual:
- violates this chapter or an order issued or a rule adopted under this chapter;
- obtains a license using fraud, misrepresentation, or concealment of a material fact;
- sells, barters, or offers to sell or barter a license or certificate of registration; or
- engages in unprofessional conduct that:
- endangers or is likely to endanger the health, welfare, or safety of the public as defined by commission rule; or
- violates the code of ethics adopted and published by the commission.
TDLR’s Complaint Process
TDLR maintains a centralized and uniform complaint process for the many types of occupations that it licenses and regulates, including speech-language pathologists. When the Enforcement Division of TDLR receives a complaint about a speech-language pathologist, it initially determines whether TDLR has legal jurisdiction over the complaint and whether there is reason to believe that a rule or law violation has occurred. If TDLR answers these two questions affirmatively, a staff member will open a case for investigation.
An investigator will usually notify the licensee or respondent of the investigation. The investigation typically will involve interviews of the complainant, licensee, and any other witnesses and the collection of any relevant documents. The investigator also may conduct an on-site visit if needed. Upon concluding the investigation, the investigator submits a detailed report to a prosecuting attorney for review.
The prosecutor reviews the case and determines how it will be resolved. Based on the investigation findings, the prosecutor may dismiss the case for lack of evidence, issue a warning letter to the licensee with no further action, or initiate disciplinary action.
If the prosecutor proceeds with disciplinary action, TDLR will issue a Notice of Alleged Violation (NOAV) seeking administrative penalties and potential sanctions against the individual’s license. Administrative penalties are monetary fines, and sanctions can include written reprimands, license suspension, or license revocation.
Potential Penalties for Speech-Language Pathologists
TDLR has adopted a disciplinary enforcement plan for speech-language pathologists that groups violations of rules and laws into penalty Classes A through D, based on severity. Class A penalties apply to the least severe administrative violations, violations by interns and assistants, and violations related to the supervision of interns. These penalties can range from $50 to $500 in fines per violation.
Class B penalties can involve $300 to $3,000 in fines per violation and up to one year of full suspension. These violations involve more severe violations, such as records and billing violations, unlicensed activity, supervision of interns and assistants, and continuing education.
Class C penalties range from $1,000 to $5,000 in fines and/or up-to-license revocation. These penalties apply to increasingly severe violations that involve records and billing, standards of care, telehealth, a code of ethics, and supervision of interns and assistants.
Class D penalties apply to the most severe violations and can result in monetary fines of up to $5,000 per violation and/or up to license revocation. These penalties apply to the most severe violations, which include:
- Failure to comply with a previous TDLR order;
- Obtaining or attempting to obtain a license by fraud, misrepresentation, or concealment of a material fact;
- Selling, bartering, or offering to barter a license or certificate of registration;
- Engaging in unprofessional conduct that endangers the health, welfare, or safety of the public;
- Failing to pay TDLR for a dishonored payment or processing fee; and
- Engaging in sexual conduct, including intercourse, kissing, or fondling, with a client or an assistant, intern, or student supervised by the licensee.
In determining the appropriate sanction from the range of potential sanctions in each case, the prosecutor will consider the following factors:
- The severity or seriousness of the violation;
- Whether the violation was willful or intentional;
- Whether the respondent acted in good faith to avoid or mitigate the violation or to correct the violation after it became apparent;
- Whether the respondent has engaged in similar violations in the past;
- The level of penalty or sanction necessary to deter future violations, both by the respondent and by the industry as a whole; and
- Any other matter that justice may require.
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Get Legal Representation Today to Help Defend Your Speech Language Pathologist License
After you have worked hard to finish your licensing process and develop your career, receiving a complaint about your services can be unexpected and disappointing. However, having a speech-language on your team can be essential to a positive outcome in your case. You can reach the offices of Bertolino LLP, by calling (512) 515-9518 today or filling out our contact form online.