When a licensed professional learns that a complaint has been filed against them with their licensing board, agency, or commission, it is vital they do nothing that might harm their defense. Not only is it essential that they respond to the notice of complaint with a well-crafted response letter that is designed to contain the scope of the investigation to come, but they must be careful not to engage in behaviors that may be construed by the investigating body as problematic. One action many professionals under investigation take that they should certainly avoid is discussing the complaint against them with their colleagues.
It’s perfectly understandable, from a psychological standpoint, why they may choose to do so. Talking with others in a position to understand is a common way people manage their stress over concerning situations—and there’s a lot of evidence that doing so can ease that stress … in the short term.
The problem is that conversations with people that do not enjoy the cover of the attorney-client privilege are not protected. This means that colleagues—and anyone else you may discuss the issue with—can be subpoenaed to testify and that testimony can be used against you, even if the people you spoke with have incorrectly remembered the nature or content of the conversation.
Therefore, you must not discuss that complaint with anyone but your lawyer. Not those colleagues. Not customers, not patients, not the butcher at the corner store, not your favorite bartender. And indeed, don’t discuss it with any members of the Board on an informal level. Any communications with the Board should be part of the official complaint process only.
All of this should not be considered an admonition against informing people (or entities) whom you have a duty to inform of the existence of the complaint—such as your insurance carrier or a work supervisor. But do not make it a full discussion. Only tell them in as much detail as the law or rules require.
The stress of a complaint can make it a difficult situation to navigate. Therefore, when it comes to defending your license against a complaint, you need to enlist an experienced professional license defense attorney as soon as possible. We can help you to avoid compromising situations.
Our law firm helps professionals like you keep their licenses when those licenses are under attack by Texas licensing authorities.
BERTOLINO LLP proudly represents licensed counseling professionals across the entire State of Texas. To best serve our clients we have offices in Austin, Houston, and San Antonio. If you are facing disciplinary action, contact us today or call (512) 717-5432 and schedule a case evaluation.