Social Worker License Defense
New York Social Worker License Defense Lawyers
Licensed social workers in New York need to meet extensive requirements dictated by the state, and losing that license could mean losing your career. The lawyers at Norman Spencer Law Group have been successfully defending the rights of New York licensed social workers and other professionals for more than a decade.
We’ve helped hundreds of individuals in the healthcare field who were accused of or investigated for professional misconduct, resulting in many favorable outcomes for our clients.
Understanding the New York Professional License Disciplinary Process
Like all other states, New York regulates all professions and has the authority to both investigate and prosecute professional misconduct. This applies to all licensed social workers and other licensed professionals, and it may also apply to misconduct that occurred in another state.
New York’s Office of Professional Discipline (OPD) is the agency tasked with the investigations and prosecution of professional misconduct, with the term covering a lot of ground. The state’s Education Law outlines an extensive list of about 40 offenses that are considered professional misconduct, with some of the most common including:
- Negligence, incompetence or fraud
- Conviction of crimes in New York or elsewhere
- Practicing beyond professional scope
- Errors in documentation
- Permitting unlicensed staff to carry out professional duties
- Unauthorized release of confidential information
- Alcohol and drug abuse
- Breaching patient boundaries
- Being of unfit moral character
When a professional misconduct complaint is filed with the Office of Professions, it is referred to the regional office of the OPD where the social worker is registered. All social workers in New York City are covered by one of the four main OPD offices:
- Manhattan: 1411 Broadway
- Manhattan: 116 West 32ndStreet
- Brooklyn: 9 Bond Street
- Bronx: 2400 Halsey Street
Additional regional OPD offices are located in Hauppauge, Syracuse, Albany, Buffalo, Port Chester and Rochester.
The attorneys at Norman Spencer Law Group have successfully dealt with representatives from every regional OPD office throughout the state, successfully representing licensed social workers at all stages of their cases.
Social Worker Professional Misconduct Cases
New York Social worker professional misconduct cases begin when a complaint is filed or the social worker self-reports convictions and actions to the state Department of Education. Once a complaint is received, the regional OPD launches an investigation. New York sees about 10,000 complaints filed against licensed healthcare professionals every year, although some are dismissed due to lack of evidence or other insufficiencies.
The targeted social worker typically receives a letter from the OPD, letting them know they are under investigation. The letter may also request patient records, along with an interview between the social worker and an OPD investigator.
While licensed professionals in New York are obligated to submit requested records, they are not obligated to speak with an investigator. Investigators are highly trained to gather evidence to support the allegations, and that’s exactly what they’ll be doing during an interview. Sharing even seemingly benign information can be damaging to your case, which is why it’s important to obtain legal assistance before you do anything.
You want to seek out attorneys experienced in the highly specific field of license defense for healthcare professionals. The lawyers at Norman Spencer Law Group are it.
Professional Misconduct Investigation Outcomes
If the OPD investigation doesn’t uncover sufficient evidence of misconduct, the case will be terminated. You may or may not be notified of this termination, making it imperative to follow-up on your case.
If sufficient evidence of misconduct is obtained, an investigative report will be sent to the Investigative Committee. The prosecuting attorney and a board member will then examine the report to determine if they’d like to move forward with the case.
When a case moves forward against them, social workers have two options. One is to opt to go to a formal hearing to fight the accusations; which is similar to a criminal trial. The other is to negotiate with the state by accepting responsibility for misconduct in exchange for a less severe penalty. This is similar to a plea deal in criminal cases.
The best option depends on your individual case, circumstances and possible penalties. An experienced OPD lawyer is essential at this stage of the game to guide you through the process. Only an OPD attorney can adequately outline all the potential caveats, benefits and consequences of this monumental decision.
Professional Misconduct Penalties
Penalties for professional misconduct in New York range from the mild to the severe. The most serious is revocation of your social worker license, a penalty reserved for the most serious types of misconduct. Social workers may be able to negotiate a license surrender in lieu of a revocation, which can be beneficial in some circumstances.
Lesser penalties for less serious misconduct can include license suspension, censure, reprimand, probation, administrative warnings and fines. Most disciplinary actions enter the public record, making them accessible to the general public.
The help ensure the most favorable outcome of your case, it’s vital to hire a healthcare attorney as quickly as possible once you learn you are the target of an investigation. The lawyers at Norman Spencer Law Group have helped hundreds of licensed professionals retain their license, reputation and career. Schedule a consultation today.