As a personal service provider, whatever your area of expertise, you're working one-on-one with people who trust you to know how to do your job with technical and professional excellence. Mistakes or acts of unprofessionalism can be traumatizing and damaging. Every state requires that people who want to work in certain professions be licensed. This is done for the protection of the public, so they know the person serving them has passed a licensing examination and is accountable to maintain certain standards of excellence.
Unfortunately, this also means that even a simple allegation of wrongdoing has the potential to upend all the work you've done to build your career. State licensing boards take complaints seriously, and they will investigate even minor allegations of wrongdoing. These boards have lots of latitude for deciding on penalties and a relatively low burden of proof--which means that without legal help, even an unfounded accusation could theoretically cost you your license.
The best way to protect your license as a personal service provider is to hire an experienced professional license defense attorney at the first signal that your license is being investigated. If you live and work in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, or New York, attorney Joseph D. Lento can represent your interests before your state licensing board to keep these allegations from costing you your career.
Personal Service Providers We Can Help
The personal service industry encompasses a wide range of professions, many of which require state licensing and/or certification. The Lento Law Firm can assist with defending your license if you work in any of the following categories.
Athletic trainers spend many hours one-on-one in close physical contact with their clients, especially those who are training to be professional athletes. State licensing requirements often include years of advanced education and passing a certification exam to qualify to work in this profession. Because of the trust involved, allegations of misconduct or mistakes causing injury can easily put them in hot water with the board. Athletic trainers may find themselves under investigation for the following types of violations:
- Sexual misconduct (e.g., unwanted sexual advances, sexual coercion, inappropriate relationships with clients)
- Fraud (e.g., misrepresenting one's credentials, false advertising, inflated guarantees)
- Distribution of controlled substances (e.g., giving illegal steroids to an athlete)
- Substance abuse (abusing alcohol or drugs may adversely affect your judgment)
- Criminal convictions (especially for crimes of moral turpitude)
- Gross negligence or incompetence (e.g., putting athletes through a regimen that results in injury or robs them of their ability to perform)
If you're facing any of these or other allegations, we can get involved in the early phases of an investigation to provide proof refuting the allegations and/or work to reduce the penalties imposed by the board.
Estheticians work in the beauty and skincare industry, so their conduct is closely scrutinized by licensing boards to protect the public interest. Estheticians must meet state qualifications for hours of training and pass a certification test before they can legally operate. An investigation into an esthetician's professional license may be due to one or several of the following reasons:
- Unsanitary practices (e.g., using unsanitized tools, failing to keep workspaces clean and disinfected)
- Improper disposal of infectious materials (many items used with clients must be disposed of in a special way to avoid transmitting disease)
- Incompetence or gross negligence (e.g., failing to follow safety protocols, botching a treatment that results in disfigurement or lasting injury)
- Violations of professional ethics (e.g., sexual relationships with clients)
- Failing an inspection
- Failing to keep your license current
If you're facing any of these or other allegations, we can get involved in the early phases of an investigation to protect your license and minimize the damage to your reputation.
Cosmetologists and Barbers
State licensing requirements vary widely for cosmetologists and barbers depending on what services they plan on offering and the rules for the state. If you work in either of these professions, you know that there are strict standards for professional behavior and maintaining a safe work environment and that the state is quick to act on allegations. As a licensed barber or cosmetologist, you could face possible disciplinary actions for many possible violations, including:
- Unsanitary practices (e.g., failure to properly clean instruments before use on multiple clients, incorrect cleaning, or storage of towels, etc.)
- Improper disposal of potentially infectious materials (e.g., improperly disposing of cosmetics, hair products, and other materials that can be hazardous to public health)
- Gross misconduct (e.g., sexual harassment or inappropriate contact with clients)
- Incompetent practices (e.g., botching a skincare procedure resulting in harm or disfigurement)
- Criminal convictions (some states will deny a cosmetologist license for felony convictions, for example)
- Acting beyond the scope of your license (i.e., performing a procedure your license doesn't qualify you to do)
For cosmetologists and barbers, no complaint or alleged violation should be minimized, no matter how minor it seems to you. Getting an experienced professional license defense attorney involved early in the process may be the key to saving your license.
By definition, every client of a massage therapist is in a relatively vulnerable position when they come in for treatment. The client puts a lot of trust in the abilities and discretion of the massage therapist. For this reason, state massage and bodywork boards regulate massage therapists with strict licensing requirements, calling for extensive education and passing key exams before licensure can happen. Massage therapists could face disciplinary action over a wide range of violations and misconduct allegations, including:
- Sanitation violations (failing to keep workspaces clean and disinfected between clients, improper washing of towels, etc.)
- Gross incompetence or negligence (e.g., injuring a client by applying too much force or working the wrong pressure points, etc.)
- Inappropriate conduct with clients (e.g., sexual harassment or failure to maintain professional boundaries as defined by the profession)
- Using a massage practice as a front for erotic massage or other sex industry practices
- False advertising or fraudulent practices
- Practicing while under the influence of drugs or alcohol which may impair judgment
- Acting beyond the scope of their license
- Employing unlicensed people to do tasks restricted to licensed individuals
If your massage therapist license is under scrutiny and you are facing possible disciplinary actions, having a professional license defense attorney in your corner may very well save your career.
How We Can Help You
When you are under investigation by the board, the chances of your license being suspended or revoked due to misconduct allegations are much higher if you don't have an attorney. Involving a professional license defense attorney can greatly improve your chances for a favorable outcome. Here are some ways a great attorney can help:
- Assume the role of your legal representative when interacting with the licensing board
- Collect evidence and witnesses in your favor
- Evaluate the complaint against you and develop the best strategy for answering the complaint effectively
- Negotiate with the board for either a dismissal of the complaint or a lesser penalty that enables you to keep your license.
- Represent you in any formal hearings before the board
- Assist with the reinstatement process of your license (if it was already suspended or revoked).
Your ability to work as a personal service provided is dependent on your license remaining in effect. Attempting to answer a complaint on your own can put your license at unnecessary risk Attorney Joseph D. Lento is an experienced attorney who can help you increase your chances of keeping your license. Call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 to learn more.