Although just perhaps a piece of paper or a registered ID, a professional license can speak volumes about someone's work ethic and character. A professional license implies that the professional has sacrificed a great deal of time and effort in pursuit of expertise in their particular field. While it may take years of education, work, and apprenticeship to gain a professional license, the license can come under threat at just a moment's notice. Professional misconduct, criminal convictions, negligent work habits, and even mere misunderstandings can all place your license and, by extension, your future financial security at risk. If you have received notice that your professional license in Iowa is under threat of suspension or revocation, Joseph D. Lento and The Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team can work with you to put the past behind you. Don't try to fight these allegations alone!
Professional Licenses in Iowa
While many people might think that licenses can only be revoked for very serious criminal activity like sexual harassment, embezzlement, or fraud, there are various types of conduct, some even unintentional, that can place professional licenses at risk of revocation or suspension in Iowa. Some examples of misconduct that can affect your professional license include:
- Ethical misconduct such as violating a client's confidentiality or sexual relations with a client;
- Substance abuse;
- Criminal charges
Just as there are various forms of professional misconduct, there are also various licensing boards that are responsible for issuing and monitoring professional licenses within the state of Iowa. Some of the main licensing boards/agencies in the state include the Iowa Bureau of Professional Licensure, the Iowa Board of Medicine, the Iowa Board of Nursing, the Iowa Dental Board, the Iowa Board of Substance Abuse, the Iowa Bureau of Emergency and Trauma Services, the Iowa State Board of Education, and the Iowa Bureau of Environmental Health Services. The state's Licensing Index Page also refers to various other professions that are licensed and regulated, some of which include:
- Tattoo artists;
- Plumbers and mechanics;
- Healing artists;
- Cosmetologists; and
- Water treatment professionals.
The Iowa Bureau of Professional Licensure
Although various agencies are responsible for issuing and monitoring licenses, a good majority of licenses in the state are overseen by the Iowa Bureau of Professional Licensure (the "bureau,"), a professional bureau of the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services. The bureau is responsible for regulating and licensing many professionals. The bureau also ensures that licensed professionals continue to meet certain education, training, and ethical standards. In the event of alleged misconduct, the bureau also investigates complaints and, if needed, pursues disciplinary action. Some of the professions the board oversees include:
- Athletic trainers;
- Massage therapists;
- Physical therapists;
- Occupational therapists;
- Respiratory care technicians;
- Interpreters and translators;
- Social workers; and
- Speech pathologist
If your professional license is currently being investigated by the Iowa Bureau of Professional Licensure or another agency, and you fear that your future is at risk, we can help! Contact the Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team of Attorneys, and we will work together to address the allegations against you.
The Disciplinary Process for Licensed Professionals in Iowa
Although the disciplinary process for each agency may vary slightly, they will largely follow the same model of "due process." "Due process" is a legal concept that ensures that everyone is treated fairly by the law. In the context of a professional license defense, it simply means that you have the right to be notified of the nature of the accusations against you as well as a fair opportunity to defend yourself before any licensing board imposes punishments or penalties. These requirements are satisfied throughout the following steps.
Most allegations of professional misconduct begin when the licensing agency, such as the Iowa State Board of Education or the Iowa Dental Board, receives a complaint that a professionally licensed individual has engaged in professional misconduct. Accusations can be raised by various people, including colleagues, clients, patients, subordinates, members of the community, and even supervisors. After conducting a thorough intake of the nature of the allegations, the licensing agency will notify the accused professional of the allegations and inform them of the next steps in the investigatory process.
After conducting an intake investigation, the licensing agency will conduct a more thorough investigation to determine whether the allegations are corroborated by any additional evidence. Although some accusations may have merit, oftentimes, they can be foundationless and the source of misunderstandings or personal vendettas. The respective licensing board will likely have broad discretion over how they choose to conduct their investigation, and investigations can vary from profession to profession. It's not uncommon to see investigators show up at the workplace unannounced or seek information from colleagues. If the assigned investigator determines that there is enough evidence to substantiate the possibility of the alleged misconduct, the licensing agency will move forward with the adjudicatory and, potentially, the disciplinary process. If the investigator feels that the allegations are unfounded, the case will be closed, and the professional's license will be safe.
Consent Agreements As An Alternative To Hearing
After determining that the case should proceed for a formal adjudication hearing, the licensing agency may decide to offer a consent agreement as an alternative route. Consent agreements are legally binding contracts that require the accused to admit liability and perform certain duties in exchange for maintaining their professional license. Oftentimes, these duties may include courses designed to address the misconduct at issue. Some of these courses may include anger management courses or sexual harassment courses. Consent agreements can also require that the professional takes part in certain programs such as substance abuse counseling or even that they agree to take some time off of work in the form of a sabbatical or suspension. While these agreements may be a fantastic alternative to a hearing because a hearing officer may decide to revoke the accused's professional license, extreme caution should be taken. Consent agreements save the agency countless hours and funds in litigation costs because they avoid paying for counsel to represent them at hearings; these agreements may be extremely biased and unfair for the professional defending their license. If a licensing agency has offered you a consent agreement or other similar settlement agreement, it is crucial that you ensure that you are being treated fairly! Contact the Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team today for help reviewing and negotiating your consent agreement.
An adjudication hearing is a legal process used to resolve disputes between a government agency and an individual. During an adjudication hearing regarding misconduct of professional licenses, both the licensing agency and the accused professional will have the opportunity to present evidence and legal arguments to a neutral decision-maker (oftentimes referred to as a hearing officer), who will then make an official ruling based on the facts presented. The hearing officer may also issue subpoenas and order testimony. At the conclusion of the hearing, the officer will either sustain the allegations against the accused professional and order disciplinary measures such as license suspension or revocation or find in favor of the licensed professional and dismiss the case.
Don't Attempt To Defend Your Professional License Alone
Although many professionals may assume they can defend their professional license without any assistance, this may be an uphill battle you will regret! Experience and knowledge matter. The various laws, policies, and regulations governing the various professional licenses are nuanced, complicated, and vast. Led by attorney Joseph D. Lento, the Professional License Defense Team has the experience and skill necessary to navigate the complex legal system in the state of Iowa. We can also ensure that you are treated fairly throughout the hearing and that your rights are protected in accordance with the law.
In instances where you admit guilt for the alleged misconduct, we can work with the relative licensing agency to mitigate the extent of your disciplinary consequences. For instance, rather than having your license revoked, we can mitigate on your behalf and reference relevant laws and policies that weigh in favor of other disciplinary actions, such as suspension or the completion of certain programs. Finally, we can ensure that you are informed and prepared every step of the way, allowing you the ability to relax and focus on your work and personal life.
Areas the Lento Law Firm Serves In Iowa
The Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team of Attorneys in Iowa can provide professional license defense to professionals in every community in Iowa. Some of the largest areas in Iowa with a large number of professionals include the following.
Des Moines is the state capital of Iowa and is the most populated city within the state. The Office of Economic Development describes the city as a "vibrant city that's home for many global financial services and insurance companies, driving innovation in agriculture biotechnology." The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that some of the top professions in Des Moines include education, healthcare, and finance.
Nestled within a beautiful landscape, the city of Cedar Rapids is one of the leading manufacturing regions in the United States and has been noted for its booming economy and upward growth in recent years. The city currently has a population of approximately 126,326, and the city reports that they are home to some major Fortune 500 companies, including Collins Aerospace, General Mills, Quaker Oats, and Nordstrom.
Davenport is located along the Mississippi River and stands out in the State of Iowa as a unique metropolitan area, alive with character and urban history. The city is the third largest city in Iowa and currently has a population of approximately 385,000. Aside from its leading manufacturing and construction industries, the city has attracted various employers, some of which include Trinity Medical Center, Genesis Health Systems, and Kraft Foods.
What Constitutes Professional Misconduct?
Various types of conduct can lead to the revocation or suspension of a professional license. Although not an exhaustive list, some different types of misconduct include:
- Substance Abuse: Substance abuse, including prescriptive drug abuse, illegal drug use, and excessive alcohol consumption.
- Ethical Violations: Certain ethical violations such as sexual misconduct, misappropriating professional resources, or harassing behavior.
- Criminal Convictions: Depending on the profession and how closely the criminal conduct relates to the professional's duties, criminal convictions such as DUI's, fraud, embezzlement, etc.
- Negligence or Misconduct: Negligent or careless actions that can include medical malpractice, failure to maintain client accounts or records, or any other type of professional malpractice.
- Failure To Maintain Professional Standards: Failure to meet ongoing professional requirements in the form of continuing education requirements and training.
Contact The Lento Law Firm For Help Navigating Your Professional License Defense In Iowa
Attorney Joseph D. Lento, the Professional License Defense Team has the necessary skill to fight for your future security and face licensing agencies on your behalf. Some of the professionals the Lento Law Firm assists include:
- Insurance agents;
- Land surveyors;
- Physical therapists;
- Physician Assistants;
- Therapists; and
- Real estate agents
If your professional license is at risk, you may feel paralyzed with fear about your future. Allegations about your professionalism target your self-esteem, reputation, and ability to provide for yourself as well as your loved ones. While facing a licensing board may seem like an uphill battle, don't be fooled! The skilled Professional License Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm can ensure that you are treated fairly and equitably in accordance with the laws, policies, and procedures that apply to your unique set of circumstances. Our friendly team is ready to answer any questions you may have about defending your professional license. Contact us today by calling us at (888) 535-3686, or use our online contact form to schedule a review of your case.