When your professional reputation and livelihood are on the ropes because of a formal complaint filed against your license, it can be difficult not to look for a way to dodge the blow. It’s one of the most stressful things that can happen to a professional. Many professionals believe that, if only they can speak with the person who made the complaint—to explain their actions or to provide more context to the situation—they might be able to dodge the whole complaint investigation process altogether. The problem is it is nearly always a terrible idea to contact someone who has lodged a formal complaint against your license.
For one thing, the board, commission, or agency that oversees your licensure will have already processed the claim for jurisdiction and determined that the case is worth pursuing. They almost all do that before even sending you a notice that a complaint has been filed. In other words, the investigation is already officially underway, even if the active investigation hasn’t yet commenced. And once the board’s agents have begun the investigation, they aren’t concerned whether the person who made the complaint was actually hurt—what they are looking for is evidence that you have broken laws, rules, or standards of duty of care. The feelings of the person who made the complaint almost don’t matter at this point, because the complainer isn’t the board’s “client”—the public interest is.
Secondly, in the board’s eyes any attempt you make to contact the complaining party on your own can look very much like an attempt to harass or intimidate them. This is not something any licensing board takes lightly since, again, their duty is to the public interest—and it is often the case that licensure of professions is instituted in the first place because of an actual or perceived power imbalance between a set of professionals and the public they serve. And, moreover, your attempt to contact the complainant in person can actually create more evidence against you.
And then, of course, there’s the fact that the person who filed the complaint did so for what they must have assumed was a good reason. Whether it was out of anger or hurt, or for whatever other reason, the fact they jumped through the hoops that filing a formal complaint entails means they were motivated. The chances of changing such a person’s mind through a conversation start low on that account. And given that you are the one they complained about, they would feel defensive from the get-go. These kinds of conversations hardly ever proceed in a rational manner.
Indeed, you should avoid dealing with any element of a formal complaint on your own. Though you may consider yourself the best person to deal with responding to a complaint, most often a licensee is far too close to the situation to be able to respond with the proper amount of objectivity. It is best to engage an experienced professional license defense attorney at the earliest possible point in the process.
Our law firm helps professionals, like you, keep their licenses when those licenses are under attack by a Texas agency, board, or commission. With offices in Austin, Houston, and San Antonio, we serve professionals all over the state. As experienced attorneys, well-versed in state administrative and licensure laws, we know how to win. Our results speak for themselves!
If you are facing disciplinary action, contact us today or call (512) 717-5432 and schedule a case evaluation.