After you have spent considerable time completing your coursework, studying, and passing your licensing exam or certification test, obtaining your professional or occupational license is a major milestone. However, even after achieving your career goals, you still must follow all the rules and laws that govern your chosen field of work. Violations of those rules or laws can lead to licensing board or agency investigations and disciplinary action against your license.
Any disciplinary complaint alleging rule or law violations can have substantial negative consequences for your professional life. If you face allegations such as these, consult an experienced licensing board defense attorney for advice. Your attorney can represent your interests from the outset of any investigation and during disciplinary proceedings by your licensing board. You can benefit from legal representation throughout all stages of this process.
Understanding Licensing Boards and Agencies in Texas
Some professions have separate state licensing boards or agencies that license, govern, and regulate them. For instance, the State Bar of Texas is the licensing agency for Texas attorneys. The Texas Board of Nursing is the licensing agency for all nurses in Texas, including licensed vocational nurses, registered nurses, and advanced practice registered nurses.
In some cases, agencies license and monitor multiple professions. For example, the Texas Medical Board licenses not only physicians but various other medical professionals, as well, including:
- Physician Assistants
- Medical Radiologic Technologists
- Surgical Assistants
- Medical Physicists
- Respiratory Care Practitioners
Some state licensing agencies also house several other licensing boards. The Texas Behavioral Health Executive Council acts as the umbrella agency for the following licensing boards:
- Texas State Board of Examiners of Marriage and Family Therapists
- Texas State Board of Examiners of Professional Counselors
- Texas State Board of Examiners of Psychologists
- Texas State Board of Social Work Examiners
One of the largest state agencies that licenses and regulates occupations is the Texas Department of Licensing & Regulation (TDLR). TDLR licenses a lengthy list of occupations, including barbers and cosmetologists, electricians, podiatrists, property tax consultants, and water well drillers and pump installers.
The Function of Texas Licensing Boards
In creating licensing boards as government agencies, the Texas legislature gives them authority over all aspects of licensure and other functions. Creating these boards aims to protect the public from unprofessional or harmful conduct by professionals. Therefore, these boards, along with the legislature, establish standards for licensure that individuals must meet to obtain and maintain licenses. They also set continuing standards for individuals to keep their licenses, such as periodic renewal and completion of continuing education.
Licensing boards also receive, investigate, and take any necessary action on complaints received about licensed individuals, with some exceptions. For example, some agencies have specific divisions within them that are designed to handle enforcement of the rules and laws that pertain to those occupations. If an agency discovers through an investigation and collection of evidence that a violation has occurred, then formal disciplinary proceedings may commence. In that case, the licensee is always afforded due process, including a fair opportunity to respond to the allegations against them in the complaint and the right to have legal counsel at all stages of the proceedings.
You should always keep the true purpose of licensing boards in mind, particularly in communicating or dealing with them. Their goal is to protect the public, not you as a licensee. As a result, even if their representatives act as if they are friendly and, on your side, divulging details to them, particularly about disciplinary matters, is likely not to your benefit. You may inadvertently give the licensing board information that they can and will use against you in your case. When you are facing a licensing board complaint, your best means of protection is to retain legal counsel to represent your interests from the outset of the proceedings.
Finally, if formal disciplinary proceedings ensue from a complaint that a licensee contests, a licensing agency often will transfer the case to the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH) for review. SOAH is an independent state agency that will assign an administrative law judge (ALJ) to hear the case and, in most cases, issue a proposal for decision to the relevant licensing agency. It is usually up to the licensing agency or board to determine whether to accept or reject the ALJ’s proposal for decision.
We Are Here to Defend You Throughout Your Investigation
Facing an investigation and potential disciplinary proceedings before a professional licensing board can be a difficult and stressful experience. Losing your professional license can leave you with no way to support yourself or utilize the degree you have worked hard to earn. We may be able to help you resolve your disciplinary investigation in the most positive manner possible. Get legal assistance from an experienced license defense lawyer today. Contact Bertolino LLP at (512) 515-9518 or visit us online.