Qualifying to become a licensed funeral director in New York was no easy task—but you've done the work, and now you have a career based on helping people in their hour of need and grief. At the same time, you hold a position of deep public trust, and if someone alleges that you've violated that trust, it can put your license in jeopardy. The New York Bureau of Funeral Directing takes any report of misconduct seriously and has the power to impose serious penalties on those it finds have violated its policies—including revoking your license.
If you're facing such allegations, your career is at stake--which is why you should only hire an experienced, knowledgeable New York licensed defense attorney to represent you. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his team have a wealth of experience with disciplinary issues, as reflected by their tremendous success rate with cases like yours. They understand the license discipline system inside out, allowing them to develop effective strategies to reduce potential damage to your career. To discuss your case, contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686.
What Types of Allegations Could Put Your NY Funeral Director License at Risk?
Since the Bureau of Funeral Directing falls under the umbrella of the Department of Health, most allegations that could result in disciplinary actions against funeral directors have something to do with violating Public Health Law or related policies and codes of conduct established by the Bureau. Examples of such violations include, but are not limited to:
- Gross negligence and incompetence. Disrespectful mishandling of remains is one of the most frequent forms of negligence among funeral directors, ranging from commingling ashes to unethical treatment and improper burial. This kind of allegation could cost you your license.
- Misconduct. Examples of prohibited conduct can include taking advantage of emotionally-vulnerable customers by improperly "upselling" services, wrongfully using customer funds, or even subjecting them to personal attacks.
- Fraudulent practices. Examples of fraud include false advertising, filing bogus or inflated insurance claims, etc.
- Substance abuse/addiction. Abusing alcohol or drugs can be a huge risk to your license, especially if it happens on the job. If you are reported for being under the influence, it could lead to serious consequences.
- Criminal convictions. Criminal convictions (especially for those considered "crimes of moral turpitude)) can result in the revocation of your license.
What Does the Disciplinary Process Look Like for New York Funeral Directors?
Most disciplinary actions against funeral directors originate with a formal complaint made to the Bureau of Funeral Directing, which anyone can easily file online. If you are a funeral director accused of misconduct or a violation, your case will likely progress through the following stages.
Upon receipt of a complaint, the Bureau will open an inquiry to determine if there is enough evidence to support it. As part of this process, they may converse with those involved in the incident and any purported witnesses, collect supporting documents and evidence, review relevant facts and regulations, as well as ascertain whether disciplinary action should be taken or not.
If the Bureau believes there is sufficient evidence to back up the complaint, they may offer to have you sign a consent order in lieu of formal disciplinary proceedings. A consent order is a legally-binding document that expresses that you agree with the allegations of misconduct and willingly submit to any disciplinary or corrective action to be taken. This option isn't the best choice in every case, but it could be the most logical resolution if disciplinary action is inevitable. This is when having an experienced attorney can be especially beneficial—they can help you understand what you agree to, negotiate for more favorable terms, and ensure your rights are not violated in the process.
Hearing and Final Determination
In some cases, you may be summoned to a formal hearing to present your case and showcase why your license should not be revoked. If you're called to a hearing, having an attorney represent you can give you a much better chance of obtaining a favorable outcome. After the hearing concludes, the Bureau will make a final decision as to what disciplinary measures to take. Punishments may range from minor reprimands and fines to the complete revocation of your license.
Why You Need a License Defense Attorney to Help You
You may assume that (especially if the violations seem minor) you can resolve a complaint on your own behalf with the Bureau of Funeral Directing, but bear in mind that you have no guaranteed presumption of innocence in this case. The Bureau's first priority is to protect the public and enforce Public Health Law, and they have the authority to discipline you based only on a preponderance of the evidence. This puts you at a disadvantage, and without an attorney's help, you're more likely to receive more severe penalties.
A licensed defense attorney can help you navigate the disciplinary process, protect your interests, negotiate directly with the Bureau for leniency, and work for the best possible outcome. They can review evidence, provide advice on how to prepare for a hearing, negotiate for favorable terms in a consent order, and defend you vigorously if you are called to a hearing. With the correct legal counsel on your side, you have a much greater chance of holding onto your license.
If you're a licensed New York funeral director accused of wrongdoing, don't risk your career by facing the allegations alone. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his legal team can help you obtain a more successful outcome while protecting your license. Contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 to schedule a consultation.