Social Workers with Disciplinary Complaints Before the Missouri Committee for Social Workers
The Law Offices of Kevin J. Dolley represents social workers in proceedings before the Missouri Committee for Social Workers. The Firm provides legal counsel to social workers in investigations, disciplinary proceedings, and litigation. If you receive a complaint or are being investigated by the Committee, contact us today to protect your rights and license.
Complaints to the Missouri Committee for Social Workers
Anyone can file a complaint against a social worker. The nature of social work involves crossing paths with individuals in stressful or difficult situations who may be prone to lodging a complaint. When the Committee receives a complaint, it notifies the licensed social worker and requests a response. The Committee’s investigator may then interview the licensee and others and may request documents. Legal representation is important during this stage of the process because it will impact how the case is ultimately resolved. It is important to contact the Law Offices of Kevin J. Dolley for help responding to complaints and working through the investigative process. Once the investigation is complete, the Committee will decide to either dismiss the complaint or pursue discipline, so it is important to have experienced representation during the investigation.
Potential Discipline for Licensed Missouri Social Workers
If the Committee believes a social worker has violated Missouri law (Chapter 337 RSMo), it may invite the social worker to meet with the Committee to discuss the allegations and answer questions. These proceedings are transcribed and can affect later litigation. Settlement negotiations may follow in an attempt to resolve the case without litigation. In other cases, the Committee may bypass this step and file formal charges against the licensee with the Administrative Hearing Commission (AHC).
Allegations by which a social worker may be subject to discipline under Missouri law include:
- Felony or misdemeanor criminal conviction or guilty plea;
- Unethical conduct;
- Sexual relationship with client or student;
- Drug or alcohol use, unlawful possession, intoxication or impairment;
- Incompetency, misconduct, fraud, dishonesty, or misrepresentation in the performance of duties;
- Violating applicable regulations;
- False or misleading advertising;
- License application issues;
- Disciplinary action by another state board;
- Probation violations.
The Social Worker Disciplinary Process
If the complaint is not resolved as part of the initial investigation through dismissal or agreement between the parties, the Committee may file a case with the AHC. The parties initially engage in the discovery process, in which they request documents and depose witnesses. The AHC then holds an evidentiary hearing to determine whether the social worker’s license is subject to discipline. At the hearing, the Committee must present evidence, including witness testimony or documents, and prove the social worker violated Missouri law. If the Committee fails to prove its case, the AHC rules in the social worker’s favor and the case ends.
If the AHC finds a violation was committed, the Committee holds a second hearing to determine the appropriate discipline. This determination is based on the findings of the AHC, testimony at the hearing before the Committee, and consideration of mitigating circumstances. Potential forms of discipline include censure, probation, suspension, or revocation. Legal representation is important throughout the process as it requires the presentation of evidence, compliance with court rules and procedures, and knowledge of the substantive law governing social workers in Missouri.
Multiple State Licensing Issues
Our attorneys understand the effect disciplinary actions can have on your license, particularly if you are licensed in multiple states. Certain issues can follow you from state to state so it is important to know and evaluate your options.
Criminal Convictions and their Impact on Professional Licenses
When faced with criminal prosecution, special attention must be paid to the impact a judgment or plea agreement will have on your professional license. Criminal convictions or guilty pleas, whether felonies or misdemeanors, are reported to the Committee. Certain crimes can result in immediate suspension of your license, while others may result in an administrative complaint. Decisions made during the criminal process, including before charges are filed, can impact your license. If you have been accused of a crime or have recently been convicted or pled guilty, please contact our professional licensing defense attorneys to discuss your options and help protect your professional license.
If the Committee denies a license to a social worker, he or she has the right to appeal under Missouri law. After receiving written notice of denial, the social worker must file a complaint with the AHC. A trial-type hearing then occurs and the AHC can overturn the Committee’s decision to deny a license. Legal representation is critical during this process in order to ensure proper procedures are followed and legal standards are met. If the Committee denied your application for licensure as a social worker, contact the Law Offices of Kevin J. Dolley.
If you are notified that a complaint has been made against your Missouri social worker license or that you are accused of violating probation, contact the Law Offices of Kevin J. Dolley to obtain experienced legal counsel to address the situation by calling (314) 645-4100 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.