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Last Updated on: 9th August 2023, 05:37 pm
Legal Counsel for Social Worker Licenses
License Defense Counsel for New York Social Workers
Social workers who hold licenses to practice in the State of New York State are obligated to meet a multitude of qualifications as prescribed by the state, and having that license removed from you could be ruinous to your career. We have a health care license defense team at Spodek Law Group that has racked up a long list of wins defending the New York licensed social workers’ rights and the rights of other professionals for over a decade.
Hundreds of workers in the healthcare community have benefited from our services when they were up against allegations of or facing investigation for professional misconduct, and we boast numerous positive outcomes for our clients.
The Professional License Disciplinary Process in the State of New York
Similar to the laws of neighboring states, New York operates regulatory units for all licensed professions and wields the power to both investigate and litigate professional misconduct. Licensed social workers are included under these auspices. In some cases, this power can extend to alleged misconduct by a New York licensed professional that took place out of the state.
The unit responsible for investigation and prosecution of professional misconduct is New York Office of Professional Discipline (OPD). Education Law in the state dictates an impressive list of about 40 misdeeds that fall in the category of professional misconduct, and it includes some of these common infractions:
- Negligent, incompetent or fraudulent behavior
- Drawing criminal convictions in New York or another jurisdiction
- Practicing beyond professional scope
- Negligent in record-keeping
- Allowing unlicensed employees to handle professional duties
- Disclosing of confidential records without authorization
- Abuse of drugs and/or alcohol
- Overstepping bounds with patients
- Displays of unscrupulous moral character
In the event that a professional misconduct complaint comes into the Office of Professions, it is dispatched to the regional office of the OPD where the social worker is registered. New York City social workers are administered by one of these four city OPD offices:
- Manhattan: 1411 Broadway
- Manhattan: 116 West 32ndStreet
- Brooklyn: 9 Bond Street
- Bronx: 2400 Halsey Street
Other regional OPD offices in New York State are located in Hauppauge, in Suffolk County, and in Albany for the capital region, and other upstate areas of Buffalo, Port Chester, Rochester and Syracuse.
The legal team at Joseph Spodek Law Group has worked well with investigators in all of the regional OPD offices across the state, successfully representing social workers seeking to protect their license at every stage of their cases.
Professional Misconduct Social Workers Cases
Professional misconduct cases brought against social workers in New York are launched after a complaint gets filed by another person or if, under certain conditions, a social worker self-reports convictions and conduct to the state Department of Education. From the time a complaint lands at the state office, the regional OPD starts an investigation. The average number of complaints filed against licensed healthcare professionals in New York is about 10,000 a year. There are cases that get dismissed because of lack of evidence or other problems.
An accused social worker would receive a letter in the mail from the OPD, in which they are told that an investigation has commenced. The letter can require you to submit patient records and also request an interview appointment between the social worker and the investigator.
License holders are under obligation to cooperate with an investigation into complaints against them. They might be mandated to furnish any requested documents to the investigator for the purposes of the investigation. That fact notwithstanding, they are under no obligation to agree to an interview request with or converse with the investigator.c We advise our clients not to do so before first speaking to your lawyer. Whatever statements you may make, as innocuous as they may seem, can and probably will be used against you and will most likely be spun in a negative light. Giving up even what sounds to you like harmless details or casual remarks can derail your case, which is why it’s key that you seek legal counsel before making any moves.
A smart move is to recruit an experienced health care defense lawyer with years of experience in standing with social workers in license-related cases. The lawyers at Spodek Law Group boast a wealth of expertise.
Professional Misconduct Investigations: Results
Sometimes, an OPD investigation does not present enough proof of misconduct. If so, your case gets terminated. The OPD may or may not notify you of this dismissal, and so it is in your best interest that you follow-up with them.
Oftentimes, the investigation does present enough evidence of misconduct. In such times, the investigative report gets sent over to the Investigative Committee. A prosecuting attorney and a board member then review the report to elect to move forward with the matter or not.
In the event that a case against you moves forward, you are presented with two choices. On one hand, you can to opt to submit to a formal hearing to refute the allegations; this is similar to a criminal trial. On the other hand, you can negotiate with the authorities by concede to the accusation of misconduct in exchange for lesser penalties. This is a lot like a plea deal in a criminal case.
When all is said and done, the best choice to make relies on unique inner workings of case, circumstances and potential damages. Working with a good OPD lawyer is important at this point in time to carry you through this convoluted process. An expert OPD attorney can arm you with a thorough review of all the possible ways you can get tripped up, and the pros and cons of this paramount decision.
Professional Misconduct Possible Penalties
Possible penalties for professional misconduct in New York start from the minimally damaging to the severe and ruinous. Indeed, the worst that can happen is that your social worker license is taken away, a repercussion that is levied in the most serious cases. The social worker may potentially negotiate a license surrender in place of a full revocation, which may be a more optimal choice for some.
Lesser consequences for less serious types of misconduct can include license suspension, censure, reprimand, probation, administrative warnings and fines. The majority of disciplinary actions become public record, rendering them visible to the general public.
To get help locking down the best possible outcome for your matter, it’s a smart move to call in help in the form of legal counsel specializing in healthcare law as soon as you know that a complaint against you set off an OPD investigation. The lawyers at Spodek Law Group have assisted many licensed professionals sustain their licenses, reputation and careers. Call us to set up an appointment for a consultation today.