In 2018 Behavior Analysts were added to the Occupations Code in the state of Texas, under Chapter 506, which made them subject to licensure under the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR). The moment Behavior Analysts became subject to licensure, they also became subject to the stripping of licensure or discipline regarding their license according to TDLR’s prerogative. This made their livelihoods and reputations rely on a clean record, and put them at risk of losing their careers because of a formal complaint, however legitimate (or otherwise) that complaint might be.
In promulgating this act in the occupations code, the legislature defined “behavior analysis” as “the design, implementation, and evaluation of instructional and environmental modifications to produce socially significant improvements in human behavior,” and determined that this “includes the empirical identification of functional relations between behavior and environmental factors, known as functional assessment or functional analysis.” Yet, in creating this category of professional license, the legislature decreed that the license would not include “psychological testing, psychotherapy, cognitive therapy, psychoanalysis, hypnotherapy, or counseling” and also would not include “the diagnosis of disorders”—for all of which a psychology or psychiatry license would be necessary. The only people in Texas who may call themselves “behavior analysts” are those licensed by TDLR, those few exemptions specifically listed in the law, and unlicensed people “who do not provide any direct services to individuals,” such as animal trainers, instructors or researchers, and “professionals providing general services to organizations”.
When TLDR receives a complaint against a licensed Behavior Analyst, it first reviews the complaint to ensure that it has jurisdiction over the allegations, and to ensure it contains “enough information for TDLR to determine that a violation may have occurred.” If these conditions are not met—or cannot be met with follow-up—then the complaint is dropped, and often the professional is never even notified that a complaint was made. Which means when a Behavior Analyst received notice of a complaint, this hurdle has already been leapt.
This notice of complaint will request a response from the Behavior Analyst. Under no circumstances should the Analyst respond to this on their own. The administrative complaint investigation process is a highly technical one, and from the get-go a Behavior Analyst should do everything they can to ensure the possibility of an outcome in which they get to keep their license.
This is why, as soon as that letter arrives, you should contact a qualified and experienced professional license defense attorney. The more time we have to craft a response, the better. And the earlier in the process we are involved, the more likely you are to achieve a positive outcome—up to and including a dismissal of the complaint. But we can’t help if you don’t contact us.
If you have been notified of a complaint from TDLR, BERTOLINO LLP can help. Our experienced professional license defense attorneys are skilled at navigating the Department’s complaint process. We are prepared to represent you at any legal hearing or proceeding regarding your professional license. With offices in Austin, Houston, and San Antonio, we serve clients all over the state. As experienced attorneys, well-versed in state and federal laws, we know how to win. Contact us today or call (512) 717-5432 to schedule a case evaluation.