Investigations of misconduct and enduring disciplinary actions against your occupational or professional license can be devastating. After all, you have spent countless hours studying in school and preparing for your licensing exam to earn the credentials necessary to pursue your career, only to suffer what may be a major setback to your career. In many occupations, complaints and enforcement actions occur at the Texas Department of Licensing & Regulation (TDLR).
Occupations that TDLR Licenses and Regulates
TDLR licenses and regulates a wide range of occupations, including the following:
- Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Contractors
- Registered Accessibility Specialists
- Athletic Trainers
- Behavior Analysts
- Boiler Inspectors
- Code Enforcement Officers
- Combative Sports Participants, including Contestants, Promoters, Managers, Retirees, Judges, and Amateur Associations
- Court-Ordered Education Program Operators, including the following programs:
- Alcohol Education for Minors
- Drug Offender Education
- DWI Education
- DWI Intervention
- Responsible Pet Owner
- Driver Education Instructors
- Dyslexia Practitioners and Therapists
- Elevator / Escalator Inspectors and Contractors
- Hearing Instrument Fitters and Dispensers
- Industrialized Housing and Buildings Manufacturers, Industrialized Builders, Design Review Agencies, Third Party Inspectors, Certified Manufacturers, and Relocatable Education Facility Builders
- Laser Hair Removal Apprentices-in-Training, Apprentices, Technicians, Senior Technicians, and Professionals
- Licensed Breeders
- Massage Therapists
- Mold Assessment Technicians, Consultants, and Companies, Mold Remediation Workers, Contractors, and Companies and Mold Analysis Laboratories
- Motor Fuel Metering and Quality Service Companies and Technicians, Distributors, Jobbers, Wholesalers, and Suppliers
- Motorcycle and ATV Operator Rider Coaches and Rider Coach Trainers
- Orthotists and Prosthetists
- Professional Employer Organizations
- Property Tax Consultants
- Property Tax Professionals, including Appraisers, Assessors, and Collectors
- Service Contract Providers, including Residential Service Companies
- Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists
- Tow Truck Operators, Tow Companies, and Vehicle Storage Facilities
- Transportation Network Companies
- Used Automotive Parts Recyclers
- Water Well Drillers and Pump Installers
- Weather Modification Project Operators
The Legal Authority granted to the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation
TDLR has the authority to take applications for licenses and certificates for all the occupations listed above. In addition, they gather the required application materials, oversee any required testing, collect proof of continuing education requirements, and more.
As part of its regulatory duties, TDLR also oversees complaints against individuals or companies holding licenses and certificates in these occupations. In addition, TDLR operates a site where consumers, professionals, and other members of the public can submit complaints about violations of the rules or laws pertaining to a person’s occupation. TDLR staff also can submit complaints, such as those arising from inspections of different companies subject to TDLR regulatory authority.
TDLR’s Enforcement Division and the Investigation of Complaints
TDLR’s Enforcement Division receives all complaints about individuals and companies in these practice areas and performs an initial analysis to determine if:
- TDLR has legal jurisdiction over the complaint; and
- There is reason to believe that a violation has occurred.
If TDLR determines that it has jurisdiction over the complaint and has sufficient reason to believe that a violation has occurred, it opens a case for investigation. An investigator takes on the case and typically interviews the complainant, the respondent or the person who is the subject of the complaint, and any pertinent witnesses. The investigator also will gather any documents and may conduct an on-site inspection if necessary. Following the investigation, the investigator compiles a report and submits it to a prosecuting attorney.
Resolution of Complaints by TDLR
The prosecuting attorney determines how to resolve the complaint by dismissing it, issuing a warning letter to the respondent, or taking formal enforcement action. If the prosecutor chooses to pursue formal enforcement action, they issue a Notice of Alleged Violation (NOAV) to the respondent, which seeks administrative penalties and, in some cases, disciplinary sanctions against the respondent’s license.
Potential Sanctions in TDLR Disciplinary Proceedings
Administrative penalties are monetary fines a respondent must pay to the state of Texas in disciplinary proceedings. Other disciplinary sanctions, which respondents may receive in addition to administrative penalties, may include:
- Written reprimand
- License suspension
- Placement on probation
- License revocation
TDLR also has developed a specific Enforcement Plan for each occupation regulated. This enforcement plan outlines the criteria TDLR considers in assessing administrative penalties and disciplinary sanctions for specific violations of rules and laws. Each plan categorizes violations into “classes” based on increasing severity with corresponding sanctions. Some violations allow TDLR to impose various sanctions, including an administrative penalty, a sanction, or both.
However, the Enforcement Plan is not binding on TDLR in that TDLR can deviate from the Plan’s recommendations in any case. In determining the appropriate penalties in a disciplinary case, TDLR 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; and
- Any other matter that justice may require.
Hire Legal Representation to Help Defend Your Professional 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 an experienced occupational license defense attorney 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.