Social Work Practice Complaints

Defending Social Work Practice Complaints Before the Missouri Committee for Social Workers

Missouri social workers often face complaints related to the social work services they provide to their clients. These complaints may be filed by clients, colleagues, employers, or even third parties. Receiving a complaint that criticizes your professional abilities and competence can be difficult even if you are an experienced social worker. If you receive a complaint alleging you engaged in improper practice as a social worker, contact the Law Offices of Kevin J. Dolley today.

Defending Missouri Social Workers Against Practice-Related Complaints

The nature of social work often leads to baseless complaints about a social worker and the services he or she provides. Social workers deal with individuals facing difficult family, housing, and medical situations. Many clients have experienced abuse, trauma, or serious illness. A social worker may be unable to meet the client’s expectations despite his or her best efforts and intentions, leading the client to file a complaint with the Committee.

The Committee investigates each complaint, meaning the social worker will have to respond in writing, produce documents, be interviewed, and interact with the Committee’s attorney, even if the complaint is ultimately dismissed. Social workers need representation from an attorney who understands their profession and the applicable Missouri laws and regulations. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Kevin J. Dolley have extensive experience defending practice-related complaints and have obtained favorable results for many Missouri professionals.

Missouri Committee for Social Workers Standards in Unethical Conduct Cases

Missouri licensed social workers may receive practice-related complaints for:

  • Obtaining or attempting to obtain a fee by fraud, deception, or misrepresentation;
  • Incompetency;
  • Misconduct;
  • Fraud;
  • Misrepresentation;
  • Dishonesty;
  • Violation of social work regulations; and
  • Violation of a professional trust or confidence.

Social workers are frequently proud of the results they achieve for their clients and their professional abilities and services. Many went into the profession to help people and continue working in difficult situations to improve their clients’ lives. Allegations of improper practice are among the most difficult and personal accusations social workers face because their abilities and professionalism are being called into question, often after the fact. These accusations are often emotional, fact-intensive, and legally complex. Social workers must retroactively explain their actions under difficult and emotional circumstances, often years later. It is easy to lose hope, wonder whether your actions were appropriate, and feel powerless when faced with a practice-related complaint from the Committee.

When a complaint is filed with the Committee, it first goes through the investigation stage. The Committee requires a written response to the complaint and may ask for documents, an interview with an investigator, and a meeting with the Committee. An attorney may contact you with a settlement proposal that involves restrictions on your practice and public discipline. The Firm’s attorneys will protect your rights during the investigation and counsel and advise you on settlement agreement terms and your best course of action.

If the complaint is not dismissed or settled, it proceeds to litigation before the Administrative Hearing Commission (“AHC”). A social worker may ultimately have a trial-type hearing in which the Committee must introduce evidence and prove its case. At the hearing, social workers have the right to see the evidence against them, testify on their own behalf, call witnesses, cross examine the Committee’s witnesses, and present evidence. If the social worker prevails, the case ends with a finding that his or her license is not subject to discipline.

Social workers who are found subject to discipline have a second hearing before the Committee to determine what, if any, discipline is appropriate. The Firm’s attorneys present mitigating evidence and zealously represent their clients to ensure the lowest and most appropriate level of discipline is imposed. In certain situations, a social worker may appeal their case to a circuit judge and seek reversal of the AHC and/or disciplinary order.

Missouri licensed social workers need an advocate who understands social work and the applicable Missouri statutes and regulations. The Committee must meet certain factual and evidentiary standards to prove its case. Documentary evidence and testimony are almost always involved, and expert witness testimony may be required. In certain situations, a single incident may not make a social worker subject to discipline. Knowledge and understanding of the relevant law and counseling practice are critical. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Kevin J. Dolley have the necessary legal knowledge and understanding of social work to ensure your rights and license are protected.

Contact Us

If you are notified that a practice-related complaint has been made against your Missouri social worker license, 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 kevin@dolleylaw.com.

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