Social Worker License Defense Lawyers in New York
Social workers licensed to practice in New York State are required to meet extensive qualifications dictated by the state, and having that license taken away could spell the end of your career. Our health care license defense team at Joseph Potashnik & Associates have been successfully defending the rights of New York licensed social workers and other professionals for more than ten years.
We have assisted hundreds of people working in the healthcare field who have been accused of or investigated for professional misconduct, ending in numerous favorable outcomes for our clients.
Understanding the New York Professional License Disciplinary Process
Much like the other states, New York State has regulatory authorities for all professions and maintains the authority to both investigate and prosecute professional misconduct. This extends to all licensed social workers and other licensed professionals, and it could also apply to alleged misconduct by a professional licensed in New York that occurred in another state.
The New York Office of Professional Discipline (OPD) is the agency charged with the investigations and prosecution of professional misconduct. This term in and of itself covers a lot of ground. The state’s Education Law lays out an extensive list of about 40 offenses that are classed as professional misconduct, with some of the most common including:
Once a professional misconduct complaint gets filed at the Office of Professions, it is then referred to the regional office of the OPD where the social worker is registered. New York City social workers are covered by one of these four main OPD offices:
Other regional OPD offices in New York State are located in Hauppauge, on Long Island, and upstate in Albany, Buffalo, Port Chester, Rochester and Syracuse.
Our attorneys at Joseph Potashnik & Associates have successfully worked with investigators from every regional OPD office throughout the state, successfully representing licensed social workers at every stage of their cases.
Professional Misconduct Cases Involving Social Workers
Social worker professional misconduct cases launched in New York commence when a complaint is filed by a third party or if, in some cases, the social worker self-reports convictions and actions to the state Department of Education. Once a complaint arrives at the main office, the regional OPD begins an investigation into the matter. New York averages about 10,000 complaints filed against licensed healthcare professionals annually, although some cases get dismissed because of lack of evidence or other problems.
The subject social worker usually receives a letter from the OPD, notifying them that they are under investigation. The investigator may also request patient records in this initial letter, as well as an interview between the social worker and an OPD investigator.
As a licensee, you are required to comply with any investigations into your practices. You may be required to submit any documents that the investigator requests from you for the purposes of the investigation. Nonetheless, you have no obligation to meet with or speak to the investigator. Our advice is that you refrain from doing so without first consulting your lawyer. Any and all statements you make, no matter how casual, can and likely will be weighed against you and will characteristically be interpreted in a negative light. Sharing even what you consider to be benign information can be ruinous to your case, which is why it’s paramount that you obtain legal assistance before you do anything.
You should put yourself in the hands of an experienced health care defense attorney who has first hand experience in defending social workers in matters related to licensing. We at Joseph Potashnik & Associates have the experience that you need on your side.
Professional Misconduct Investigation Outcomes
In the case that the OPD investigation fails to present sufficient evidence of misconduct, your case will be terminated. They may or may not notify you of this termination, impressing upon you that it is imperative that you follow-up on your case.
If, on the other hand, sufficient proof of misconduct is indeed available, then an investigative report is dispatched to the Investigative Committee. The prosecuting attorney and a board member then examine the report to decide if they’d like to move forward with the case.
When a case against a social worker moves forward, that social worker has two choices. One is to decide to attend a formal hearing to fight the allegations; which is akin to a criminal trial. The other option is to negotiate with the state by accepting responsibility for misconduct in exchange for less severe consequences. This is much like a plea bargain in criminal cases.
In the end, the option depends on your individual case, circumstances and possible penalties. Having a well versed OPD attorney is critical at this stage of the game to help you navigate this complex process. Your experienced OPD attorney can give you a detailed outline of all the potential pitfalls, positives and consequences of this monumental decision.
Penalties for Professional Misconduct
Professional misconduct penalties in New York start from mild ones to consequences that can be rather severe. The most grave is revocation of your license to practice social work, a consequence reserved for the most serious infractions. A social worker might be able to negotiate a license surrender in lieu of a revocation, which can work out for the better in some circumstances.
More lenient penalties for less severe forms of misconduct can include license suspension, censure, reprimand, probation, administrative warnings and fines. The lion’s share of disciplinary actions end up in the public record, making them available to the general public.
For assistance ensuring the most favorable outcome of your case, it’s essential to enlist the aid of a healthcare lawyer as soon as possible once you receive notice that you are the target of an OPD investigation. Our lawyers at Joseph Potashnik & Associates have helped hundreds of licensed professionals keep their licenses, reputation and careers intact. Make your appointment for a consultation today.