The Texas Department of Licensing & Regulation (TDLR) licenses various occupations. TDLR also regulates and enforces the rules that govern those occupations. As a part of its governance duties, TDLR has adopted enforcement plans and penalty matrices for many occupations. These plans advise license holders of the potential sanctions they can face if they become subject to disciplinary proceedings. An occupational license defense lawyer can help you understand the TDLR enforcement plan and the possible consequences that you can expect if you are subject to a disciplinary complaint.
TDLR manages, licenses, and regulates almost 40 diverse occupational programs. These programs include:
- Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Contractors
- Architectural Barriers
- Athletic Trainers
- Behavior Analysts
- Boiler Safety
- Code Enforcement Officers
- Combative Sports Participants, including Contestants, Promoters, Managers, Retirees, Judges, and Amateur Associations
- Court-Ordered Education Program Operators, including Responsible Pet Owners
- Driver Education and Safety
- Dyslexia Therapy
- Electric Vehicle Charging Stations
- Elevator / Escalator Safety
- 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
TDLR’s mission statement is “To earn the trust of Texans every day by providing innovative regulatory solutions for our licensees and those they serve.” TDLR’s core values include:
- Customer Service
- Open and free communication
TDLR aims to be “the best at creating “next” practices that deliver low-cost licensing and regulatory services and an exceptional customer experience.”
Disciplinary Complaints and TDLR
One core function of TDLR is to receive, investigate, and resolve complaints filed against the professionals it licenses. Due to the many occupational programs that TDLR administers, TDLR receives over 12,000 annual complaints. Complaints typically come from consumers, internal referrals from TDLR staff following routine inspections, and criminal background investigations of applicants and licensees.
As a result, TDLR has a robust complaint resolution process by which its staff investigates all complaints received that fall within its jurisdiction. Following the investigation, if TDLR finds evidence that an entity and/or individuals have violated a rule or law, it assesses penalties and sanctions as necessary. Most TDLR complaints are resolved within six months after moving through a three-step complaint process.
The first step upon receiving a complaint is for TDLR staff to determine if it alleges a jurisdictional complaint. If TDLR has jurisdictional authority over the alleged violation, its staff opens a case and assigns it to an investigator in TDLR’s Enforcement Division. However, if TDLR does not have jurisdictional authority over the alleged violation, it closes the complaint based on a lack of jurisdiction.
If TDLR has jurisdiction over the complaint, the investigator will investigate the allegations made in the complaint and gather facts and evidence concerning those allegations. An investigation typically involves interviews with the complaining party, the party who is the subject of the complaint, and any relevant witnesses. The investigator may collect any documents relevant to the investigation and may conduct an on-site inspection if necessary. The investigation aims to determine whether there is reason to believe that the subject of the complaint has violated a rule or law that governs the subject’s occupation.
Disciplinary Action or Dismissal
Once the investigation is complete, the investigator will forward the case and an investigative report to a prosecutor for the Enforcement Division for review. The prosecutor will determine whether to pursue disciplinary action. The prosecutor can dismiss or close the case if disciplinary action is unwarranted or unsupported by the evidence. The prosecutor may or may not issue a warning letter to the licensee who is the subject of the complaint before closing the case.
If the prosecutor determines that the complaint warrants formal disciplinary action, they typically issue a Notice of Alleged Violation (NOAV) to the licensee who is the subject of the complaint. In the NOAV, TDLR seeks to assess administrative penalties for the violation and, in some cases, further disciplinary sanctions that may affect their license.
Potential sanctions that a licensee can face during TDLR disciplinary proceedings may include:
- Written reprimands
- Administrative penalties
- License suspension
- License revocation
A licensee who disagrees with the sanctions proposed by TDLR has the right to request a contested hearing before the Texas State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH).
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TDLR Enforcement Plans
TDLR has a specific Enforcement Plan for each occupation it licenses and regulates. These plans outline the specific factors that TDLR considers in assessing administrative penalties and disciplinary sanctions for violations of the rules and laws governing each occupation. Each Enforcement Plan classifies common violations seen in disciplinary sanctions into tiers based on severity and assigns recommended sanctions to those tiers. TDLR may impose various sanctions and/or administrative penalties for some violations.
The purpose of the Enforcement Plan is to lend consistency in disciplinary proceedings and to allow licensees to know what to expect as consequences for violations of rules or laws. However, TDLR also can deviate from the Enforcement Plan as warranted. In deciding the appropriate sanction in any disciplinary proceeding, TDLR must 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.
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We Will Represent Your Interests Before TDLR
We know how important it is to maintain your occupational license during disciplinary proceedings and safeguard your ability to earn a living. The experienced occupational license defense lawyers at Bertolino LLP, will advocate to help you obtain the occupational license you seek. Together, we will work to put you in the best position possible to obtain your occupational license. Call us at (512) 515-9518 or contact us online.